Louisville mayor expresses frustration at slow pace of Breonna Taylor case, lays out police reform plans

Breonna Taylor was killed on March 13 after police executed a no-knock order.

It has been over four months since Breonna Taylor was gunned down in her apartment when three Louisville Metro police officers executed a no-knock warrant.

As the days, weeks and months passed since Taylor's death, her family posthumously celebrated her 27th birthday and one officer, Brett Hankison, was fired from the department. Officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly remain on administrative duty.

The mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, said during a briefing on Thursday evening that he is "frustrated" with the investigation process and wants to make systemic changes in order to be more transparent with the community.

Since Taylor's March 13 death, state and federal law enforcement agencies have launched criminal investigations, but public information about the process has been legally locked down by state law KRS 67c.

The law "imposes essentially a gag order on what I can say publicly about matters related to any kind of investigation being conducted by LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit," said Fischer, adding, "While we don’t want to jeopardize an ongoing investigation or compromise the rights of officers or civilians, we have to be able to address the public’s right to know what’s happening."

Fischer said during the almost 20-minute video posted on YouTube that Taylor's death is "an open wound" for her family and the entire city.

While Taylor's case did not initiate recent protest worldwide, protesters have passionately kept her name within their rallying cry to end police brutality against people of color.

Taylor, 26, and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were in their apartment when they were awakened out of their sleep.

Unbeknownst to Taylor and Walker, Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove were using a battering ram to knock down their front door. Police executed a no-knock warrant for Taylor's apartment as they suspected her of participating in drug trafficking activity with two known drug dealers, according to the search warrant.

Walker, 27, called 911 as he believed an intruder was in the home and opened fire with his legally owned firearm. The officers fired back over 25 rounds and killed Taylor with at least eight bullets, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in April by Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, who represent the Taylor family.

"We hope the mayor’s calls are enacted and supported to prevent further tragedies. But we can not and will not forget the tragedy that has led to these very discussions," said Ben Crump, who also represents the Taylor family. "Until all of Breonna Taylor’s killers are fired, arrested, and convicted, there remains no justice for her, her family, and the people of Louisville."

Fischer did share one update on Taylor's case on Thursday: He said the police department's Public Integrity Unit had completed its investigation and delivered the file to Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office.

"I have no control or influence over that process, or the additional independent investigations being conducted by the Department of Justice and FBI," said Fischer. "And I am as frustrated as you are by how long it’s all taking. . . . But while we are waiting for these investigative outcomes, I’m not waiting to pursue the cause of racial justice in Louisville, and particularly the need for public safety reform."

Fischer acknowledged that there have been some notable changes to the justice system, including the signing of Breonna's Law, which bans no-knock warrants and mandates the use of body cameras for police officers serving search warrants.

"These are substantial changes, but we know they are not enough,” said Fischer, before outlining further changes he’s seeking to "ensure greater transparency and accountability."

Fischer is seeking to call on the Kentucky State Police to independently investigate officer-involved shootings, change the KRS 67c state law, strengthen the civilian review board, create an inspector general position, and work with the police union to create greater balance between officers' due process and transparency with the community.

"This is a critical moment for our city as well as our country. Because of the national interest in justice for Breonna Taylor, America’s eyes are on Louisville. Let’s demonstrate what we already know -- that in our city, we have the combination of civic pride, wisdom, courage and compassion to be that American city that takes itself from tragedy to transformation," said Fischer.

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