Louisville settles suit with Breonna Taylor's family

Louisville settles suit with Breonna Taylor's family

I suppose this was almost inevitable, but it’s likely going to have a serious impact on future developments (and potentially criminal trials) in the death of Breonna Taylor. Back in April, Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Louisville and the officers involved in the shooting. It was announced today that the city has settled with Palmer to the tune of “millions” of dollars along with concessions on pending police reform measures. The family is declaring this as a great victory and justice for Talor, but this story is very far from being over. (NBC News)

The city of Louisville, Kentucky, has reached a settlement with Breonna Taylor’s family six months after she was killed in her home during a police drug raid.

A source familiar with the details of the settlement told NBC News the agreement is in the millions of dollars and will include a list of police reforms that will address officer accountability and the execution of search warrants.

The settlement was first reported by The Louisville Courier-Journal. Lawyers for Taylor’s family will discuss the settlement at a 2 p.m. ET news conference. A spokeswoman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declined to comment Tuesday morning.

The city isn’t commenting on the suit, nor are they making this out as some sort of acknowledgment of fault on the part of the police. But it will be almost impossible to keep that out of the minds of the jurors if any or all of the police involved in the shooting wind up going to trial. At this point, none of the officers who raided Taylor’s apartment have even been charged with a crime, though one has been fired from his job and two others have been put on administrative leave indefinitely.

On the one hand, it’s not all that unusual for a municipal government to settle a case like this out of court. The legal expenses involved in fighting it were already mounting and they probably assumed that they would wind up losing anyway, potentially having to fork over an even larger amount. But this news will still leave an impression on the public, particularly those who were already inclined to find fault with the actions of the police. The inclusion of agreements to additional “police reforms” as part of this civil suit settlement make it look even more like an admission that the police acted inappropriately.

As we discussed recently, the leak of a police department memo covering details of the investigation has complicated the case considerably. Almost all of the attention of the police had been focused on Jamarcus Glover, a known drug dealer who had previously had multiple run-ins with the law. He was also a close friend/associate of Breonna Taylor, though there’s been scant evidence that she was involved with any of his illegal activities beyond possibly holding some of his money or allowing her apartment to be used to temporarily store contraband. But he used Taylor’s apartment as his address of record in some cases, having deliveries in his name made there. He also listed her phone number as his point of contact following a previous arrest.

Even if true, none of that should have made Taylor a candidate for any sort of lethal-force intervention by the police. But it’s also become fairly clear that the police never had any intention of shooting Taylor. They were firing in response to shots being fired by her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, from inside the apartment, striking one of the officers who was outside, preparing to enter and execute a search warrant.

Detective Brett Hankison is the primary focus of the case, being the officer who blindly fired ten shots into the apartment, killing Breonna Taylor in the process. If anyone is going to be put on trial it’s most likely him. His chances of avoiding conviction, if only on some sort of unintentional homicide charge, have probably just been decreased. It’s hard to imagine a jury member who knows about this settlement not reading this news as an admission of guilt on the part of the city. Since there apparently will be no body camera footage coming from the actual raid on Taylor’s apartment, we’re left with a lot of unknowns. But if I had to guess, I’d say that an indictment against Hankison is probably in the works even now.

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