LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Calls for an outside investigation into the fatal police shooting of a Kentucky emergency medical technician are growing, two months after the 26-year-old black woman was killed in her home.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday evening that the state's attorney general and U.S. attorney should review the case, “because the fact are what the family deserves.”
“The truth is always the very best answer,” Beshear said during his daily briefing on the coronavirus outbreak. “I just want to make sure that we get that.”
Outrage spread beyond Kentucky borders this week over the shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police during a warrant search on March 13. Some high-profile figures, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, called for a federal investigation. An online petition with more than 90,000 signatures says police performed an “illegal drug raid” before killing Taylor.
The online petition and some others calling for an outside investigation say police went to the wrong house. But police had a warrant to search Taylor's home as part a of drug investigation, though she was not the suspect they were seeking, according to the Courier Journal.
The county's prosecutor, Thomas Wine, Wednesday night asked the state attorney general's office to appoint a special prosecutor in the case to avoid a conflict of interest. Wine's office is prosecuting Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, in the shooting of one of the officers who entered the home. The letter to the AG's office said officers were executing a search warrant at the home when they were shot at by Walker.
Louisville police have declined to answer further questions about the case, citing an ongoing internal investigation.
Police have "tried to sweep this under the rug,” said Sam Aguiar, a lawyer for Taylor's family. “The family right now has a very understandable desire to know the full circumstances of what went on that night.”
Taylor was shot eight times. Police said they were returning fire after one officer was shot in the apartment and wounded.
A defense attorney for Walker argued in court filings that Walker fired in self-defense because police did not announce themselves and he thought officers were breaking in. Taylor and Walker had no criminal history or drug convictions, and no drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment.
Walker has been charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but a judge has released him to home incarceration.
Taylor's family has hired prominent civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump. Crump has represented the families of other high-profile black shooting victims, including Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot in February on a Georgia residential street.
Beshear said the police's initial investigation into Taylor's death should be reviewed by state and federal prosecutors “to ensure justice is done.”
A lawsuit filed by Taylor's family last month said Taylor “had posed no threat to the officers and did nothing to deserve to die at their hands.” The suit also said police had already located the drug suspect they were seeking, Jamarcus Glover, at his home and detained him before executing the warrant at Taylor’s residence.
The Courier Journal reported Tuesday that Taylor's address was listed in a search warrant based on the investigator’s belief that Glover used her home to receive mail, keep drugs or stash money earned from drug sales. Police investigators said they had earlier observed the drug case suspect, Glover, taking a package from Taylor’s home and driving to a “known drug house,” the newspaper reported.
The warrant was a “no-knock,” meaning police were not required to identify themselves before entering the home, the Courier Journal reported. Louisville police have said they did identify themselves to the home's occupants, but some neighbors said they heard no such warnings, according to the lawsuit filed by Taylor's family.
Another warrant executed on the same night as Taylor’s death at another house connected to the investigation led to the seizure of “several ounces of suspected crack cocaine, marijuana and U.S. currency,” authorities said.