Breonna Taylor’s family settles with City of Louisville for $12 million, significant police reform

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 7:57 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 12:32 PM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/Gray News) - The family of Breonna Taylor and the City of Louisville have reached a $12 million settlement, WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters have learned.

>> ALSO: What has changed since Breonna Taylor’s death?

The settlement is the largest ever paid by the city in an officer-involved shooting case.

Taylor, 26, was shot dead when Louisville Metro Police Department officers served a narcotics warrant at her home on March 13.

The settlement also makes history by including one of the largest lists of police reforms that LMPD now will be required to implement.

“It’s important to know here, a financial settlement was non-negotiable without police reform,” said Lonita Baker, an attorney for the Taylor family, at a joint news conference on Tuesday. “Justice for Breonna is multi-layered. What we were able to accomplish ... is tremendous, but is only a portion of a single layer.”

The news comes two days after the six-month anniversary of Taylor’s death and several days after WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters first reported the state’s criminal case was being presented to a grand jury, with a decision on possible charges expected to be announced soon.

“We are not gonna stop our cause to hold the officers responsible for Breonna’s death accountable,” Baker said.

The settlement is aimed at changing some of the departmental policies that may have contributed to what happened the night Taylor was killed, such as an overhaul of the execution of simultaneous search warrants. Minutes before the Taylor raid, narcotics officers arrested Jamarcus Glover at a suspected drug house several miles away. Glover, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend and a convicted drug offender, also was named in the warrant that sent officers to Taylor’s home.

>> MORE: Who’s who in the Breonna Taylor case?

The agreement also mandates that a commanding officer review and give written approval of all search warrants and SWAT matrices, documents aimed at calculating the specific dangers of a warrant location.

The settlement requires the presence of paramedics whenever a warrant is executed. The night of the shooting, an ambulance left Taylor’s apartment before officers broke through her doorway. Taylor did not receive immediate EMS treatment and bled to death on the floor of her apartment. Sgt. Jon Mattingly, who was shot in the femoral artery by Taylor’s boyfriend during the raid, had to be rushed away from the apartment on top of another officer’s car. Several minutes went by until he received medical treatment, too. Mattingly survived his injury.

Other reforms include an early-action warning system to identify officers with “red flags,” and the retention of records related to internal officer complaints and investigations.

It also removes the police chief’s option to close cases against officers “by exception,” allowing an officer to resign or retire without discipline. The “exception” option was most notably used by former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad in the Explorer child sex abuse case. Conrad allowed then-LMPD Officer Kenneth Betts to resign from the department in the middle of an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor. Conrad closed that investigation by exception, allowing Betts to continue working as an officer at another department.

Officers handling money during seizures will have to be in pairs and wear body cameras, according to the contract, which also requires LMPD to hire a number of social workers to help officers on certain runs.

>> MORE: Complete coverage of the Breonna Taylor case

The city also will have to offer housing credits to officers to encourage them to live in Louisville, as opposed to surrounding counties, as well as encourage them to perform at least two hours of paid community service each week.

The settlement pushes the city to bargain for increased drug and alcohol testing in the next round of contract negotiations with the department’s FOP.

“Everyone around the table was dedicated to advancing (these) reforms for the whole community,” Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell said at Tuesday’s news conference, before addressing Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. “Miss Palmer, we tried our best to get a start.”

High-profile, civil-rights attorney Ben Crump also spoke Tuesday, praising local leaders for their passage of new legislation that banned no-knock warrants. The LMPD officers had secured one for the Taylor raid, but they essentially voided it when they knocked on her door the night of the raid. State lawmakers will consider a similar measure when the next legislative session convenes in January.

“I’m very happy that the Metro Council stood united to pass Breonna’s Law to abolish these dangerous no-knock warrants,” he said.

Mattingly and detectives Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove were placed on administrative reassignment following the raid, per LMPD protocol. Hankison was fired for “blindly” shooting 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment from outside, according to his termination letter. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office is investigating and will determine whether to criminally charge the officers.

“Regardless of this landmark step on the journey to justice, we still are demanding that (Kentucky Attorney General) Daniel Cameron bring charges immediately against the police officers that murdered Breonna Taylor,” Crump said.

Activist Tamika Mallory directed a similar message to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, standing just feet away:

“If for any reason these officers are not indicted ... you must instruct your police department to fire every single one of them on the spot,” she said.

Louisville Metro Government will cover $5 million of the $12 million settlement. A city insurance policy will cover $5 million, and the remaining $2 million will come from a trust. Fischer said the settlement is not an admission of officer wrongdoing.

“It’s just an acknowledgment of the need for reform and the need for a settlement to take place,” Fischer said.

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