Kentucky AG asked to serve as special prosecutor in Breonna Taylor case

Elisha Fieldstadt and Minyvonne Burke
·3 min read

Kentucky's attorney general will serve as a special prosecutor in the killing of Breonna Taylor, a woman fatally shot in her Louisville home by police who her family says were executing a "botched" search warrant.

"The Office of the Attorney General has been asked to serve as special prosecutor in the matter involving the death of Breonna Taylor. At the conclusion of the investigation, the office will review the evidence and take appropriate action," Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced late Wednesday.

Hours earlier, Gov. Andy Beshear called on Cameron to "carefully review the results of the initial investigation to ensure justice is done at a time when many are concerned that justice is not blind."

"The public reports concerning the death of Breonna Taylor are troubling," Beshear said in a statement.

Image: Breonna Taylor was a qualified EMT (Family photo via NBC12)
Image: Breonna Taylor was a qualified EMT (Family photo via NBC12)

State Rep. Charles Booker of Louisville also called Wednesday for an independent investigation.

"Ms. Taylor was an innocent and valued member of our community, and it is unjust that she has been killed," Booker wrote in a letter to Cameron. "The circumstances surrounding her violent death at the hands of officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department are deeply troubling."

Taylor's family in a lawsuit accuses three officers, since identified as Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, of "blindly firing" more than 20 shots into her apartment, surprising the 26-year-old and her boyfriend who thought the officers were burglars.

Taylor, an EMT, and her boyfriend thought they were being burglarized and he fired at the officers in self-defense, the lawsuit said.

After the March 13 incident, the Louisville Metro Police Department said the officers had knocked on the door several times and “announced their presence as police who were there with a search warrant.” After forcing their way in, they “were immediately met by gunfire,” Lt. Ted Eidem said at a news conference.

But the family's lawsuit said the three officers entered Taylor's home "without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers."

Taylor was shot eight times and died. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, 27, was arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer.

The family's suit said that Walker had a license to carry and kept firearms in the home, and that Taylor was unarmed.

"Breonna Taylor was sleeping while black in the sanctity of our own home," attorney Benjamin Crump said at a Wednesday press conference, adding, "we cannot continue to allow them to unnecessarily and justifiably kill our black women and escape any accountability."

The suit said the officers were looking for a suspect who lived in a different part of the city and was already in police custody. The Courier-Journal reported that records show the officers were investigating a "trap house" that was more than 10 miles away from Taylor's apartment. They had been issued a "no-knock" search warrant for that residence.

A police spokesperson had no comment this week because the investigation was still ongoing. The officers were reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation.

Taylor and Walker had no criminal history or drug convictions. No drugs were found in the apartment.

Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, filed the lawsuit in April in Jefferson Circuit Court alleging wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence.

"Though it is unjust and reprehensible, it is true that black people in American society are often seen as deadly weapons simply because of the color of our skin. I urgently request that you ensure that justice is done in this case," Booker wrote in his letter to Cameron. "I am counting on your leadership to ensure that Breonna Taylor's life and service are more than yet another hashtag, and that this moment becomes a chance to stand against institutional racism and for the just humanity of all Kentuckians."