The boyfriend of Breonna Taylor on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against the Louisville government and the police officers involved in the botched raid in which his girlfriend was killed, alleging law enforcement made false claims to get a warrant to search Taylor’s apartment and violated his constitutional rights.
The 38-page lawsuit by Kenneth Walker casts Taylor’s death as preventable and alleges broad, problematic practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department:nighttime raids and a failure by officers to clearly identify themselves.
Louisville police killed Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, last March while executing a no-knock warrant at her home in search of drugs. Authorities found no illegal substances, and the case helped fuel national outrage and demonstrations about police treatment of minorities.
According to his lawsuit, Walker was inside the apartment at the time and fired a shot at the officers, whom he believed to be “intruders.” The officers, according to the suit, “responded with a fusillade” that struck Taylor.
“Mr. Walker survived the onslaught, but was forced to lay helplessly beside Ms. Taylor as she bled to death on the floor from her gunshot wounds,” the suit alleges. “This senseless tragedy occurred because of the willful disregard for the constitutional rights of Mr. Walker and Ms. Taylor shown by the LMPD officers who planned and carried out the raid on Ms. Taylor’s residence.”
A Louisville Metro Police Department spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
Walker already had filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court. The suit Friday was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. Among those representing Walker is Donald Verrilli Jr., a former U.S. solicitor general. Taylor’s family separately settled a wrongful-death suit against the city of Louisville for $12 million.
Walker’s suit alleges that the warrant used to justify searching Taylor’s apartment was deeply flawed, as it was mostly based on evidence focused on a different address where police believed two other men, including Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, sold drugs. A detective, according to Walker’s suit, sought to link Taylor’s apartment to the activity by falsely claiming a U.S. Postal inspector had confirmed her ex-boyfriend received packages at her address.
The suit also alleges that Louisville police supervisors had a general practice of lax supervision of warrants and that officers were not adequately trained on using force.
Police initially charged Walker in connection with shooting an officer in the leg during the raid, though prosecutors later dropped the case and a judge this week dismissed it in such a way it cannot be refiled.
A grand jury in Jefferson County, Ky., last year indicted a former Louisville police officer, Brett Hankison, in connection with the case for endangering lives in a neighboring apartment unit. Hankison had earlier been fired in connection with the raid, as the department said he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s home in “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”