The city of Louisville, Kentucky, will pay $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman shot dead by police in a botched raid on her apartment in March, to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit, Mayor Greg Fischer said on Tuesday.
The settlement will be accompanied by reforms of the Louisville Metro Police Department, including a requirement that commanders approve search warrants before they are put to a judge, Fischer said at a news conference, alongside Taylor’s family.
“I’m deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death,” Fischer told reporters. “My administration is not waiting to move ahead with needed reforms to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.”
Taylor’s shooting by police serving a narcotics warrant at her home has sparked months of protests in Louisville and calls nationwide for the officers to be charged in her death. The state’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, is investigating police actions in the March 13 shooting.
The lawsuit, filed in April by her mother, Tamika Palmer, alleged the police used flawed information when they obtained a “no-knock” warrant to enter the Black woman’s apartment in March. Taylor, 26, was shot several times and police found no drugs at her home.
The suit accused three Louisville police officers of blindly firing into Taylor’s apartment the night of the March raid, striking Taylor several times. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was in the apartment with her and fired a single shot that struck an officer in the leg. Walker said he did not hear police announce themselves and said he thought he was guarding against an intruder.
The settlement will include reforms on how warrants are handled by police. The city of Louisville is expected to announce the details Tuesday afternoon.
The largest settlement previously paid in a misconduct case was $8.5m in 2012, to a man who spent nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit, according to news reports.
But despite mounting public pressure on the authorities to file criminal charges, prosecutors may face significant obstacles to bringing homicide-related charges against the police officers, legal experts said.
One officer, detective Brett Hankison, was fired for “blindly firing 10 rounds” into the apartment building.
The officers were not wearing body cameras and the department said there is no video of the raid. Her boyfriend was initially charged, but those charges were later dropped.
Tensions have swelled in Louisville and spread far afield as activists, celebrities, professional athletes and social media stars push for action while investigators plead for more patience. The warrant also has been called into question and, with federal officials looking into potential civil rights abuses, the case could reach beyond the officers on the scene that night.
Taylor’s family and multiple cultural luminaries – from LeBron James to Oprah Winfrey – have called for three police officers who were at her home to be charged with her killing. Oprah put Taylor on the cover of her O magazine.
Louisville has banned no-knock warrants in a local ordinance named for Taylor.