Louisville, Kentucky – The acquittal of a former Louisville police officer in connection with a failed drug raid that ended in the death of Breona Taylor has disappointed her family and protesters who marched on her behalf for months.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and other family members participated in the trial of Brett Hankison for several days in the hope that the only person charged in the March 13, 2020 raid would be criminally punished.
Palmer quickly and silently left the courtroom Thursday after jurors lifted former Louisville detective drug charges of danger.
“To be clear, these charges were not for Breona Taylor, but, nevertheless, he had to be found guilty,” Palmer later wrote in a message on social media.
Taylor’s younger sister, Ju’Nia Palmer, asked how it was possible to rid Hankison of offenses.
“It’s like they walk on my sister all the time!” She wrote in a letter after the verdict. She lived with Taylor during the raid, but there was no town that night.
Taylor’s death loomed during a two-week trial, though prosecutors said it was not her shooting or the warrant that brought armed police to her door, but the threat they said Hankison posed to neighbors when he fired on Taylor’s apartment. . Some of the few bullets that Hankison fired from his pistol got stuck in the wall of the neighbors’ apartment.
The only photo of Taylor shown in court was an exhibit from the crime scene, which showed her lifeless body at the end of a darkened corridor.
She was fatally shot by two Hankison officers after they broke down the front door and opened fire in response when her boyfriend fired a handgun. Anger over her death and the process that brought armed officers to her door helped spark mass protests against racial injustice in the summer of 2020 along with the deaths of Ahmaud Arberi and George Floyd.
Protesters in Louisville complain that no one has been blamed for Taylor’s death, while white men who persecuted and killed Arbery and a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck have been arrested and convicted of crimes.
Several dozen protesters staged a brief march in Louisville on Thursday night after a jury handed down a verdict in the Hankison case, returning to the square where they had been gathering for months in 2020.
“In 2020, everyone got justice, but in Kentucky we can’t even be accused of danger,” said Tyra Walker, co-chair of the Alliance Against Racists and Kentucky Political Repression, at the meeting.
Another small group of protesters gathered in the city center on Friday, the day after the verdict, holding plaques and chanting Taylor’s name.