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For the first time, police will directly face charges for Breonna Taylor's death

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The Justice Department has charged two former and two current police officers in Louisville, Ky., in the killing of Breonna Taylor. The charges are the first to be filed in connection with the death of a 26-year-old emergency medical technician. From member station WFPL, Breya Jones has more.

BREYA JONES, BYLINE: The four officers face federal charges, including civil rights violations, unconstitutional use of force and other offenses. In 2020, Breonna Taylor was killed after police burst into her apartment in the middle of the night on a botched drug raid. Fearing intruders, Taylor's boyfriend fired once at police. And they shot back, killing her. Kristen Clarke is the assistant attorney general for civil rights with the U.S. Justice Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KRISTEN CLARKE: These indictments reflect the department's commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and to protecting the constitutional rights of every American.

JONES: Taylor's family gathered in Louisville with their attorneys and local activists following the announcement. Tamika Palmer is Taylor's mother. She's always maintained that the police had no reason to be there, and then they lied about what happened.

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TAMIKA PALMER: Y'all learning what we've been seeing, what's the truth, that they shouldn't have been there and that Breonna didn't deserve that. Y'all learning that today that we not crazy.

JONES: Palmer said, for the past two years, people did not believe her when she said that there was something wrong, that there was a cover-up. But she says the DOJ's announcement shows officers obtained their search warrant fraudulently. Palmer specifically called out Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's lack of action in properly investigating her daughter's death.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PALMER: He was dead wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yes, dead wrong.

PALMER: It didn't start with him. But he had the first - he had the right to do the right thing and he chose not to. So again, I've waited 874 days for today.

JONES: There's still an ongoing federal investigation into the Louisville Police Department looking into whether it has a pattern of misconduct. That investigation is separate from these charges.

For NPR News, I'm Breya Jones in Louisville.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROBERT GLASPER'S "MAIDEN VOYAGE/EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Breya Jones