Breonna Taylor’s Family Receives $12 Million Settlement From Louisville

The protests began locally and have grown in volume and intensity. They have ravaged the downtown of Kentucky’s largest city, where businesses and government offices are boarded up. And the young woman’s death has burrowed deep into the national conversation: Both the former first lady Michelle Obama and the vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris called out her name at the Democratic National Convention last month, Oprah Winfrey bought dozens of billboards demanding justice for the young woman and W.N.B.A. players have placed her name onto their jerseys.

The top demand of the protesters who gather nightly in a downtown square has been that criminal charges be brought against the three white officers who shot into Ms. Taylor’s home. But because the officers were fired upon first, legal experts say their actions may be protected under Kentucky’s statute allowing the police to use lethal force in self-defense. For that reason, they say it is unlikely that a criminal inquiry underway by the state’s attorney general will result in charges against at least two of the officers, who were standing directly in front of Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when he opened fire first.

The same legal experts believe that only a charge of wanton endangerment could be brought against a third officer, whom the police department fired, citing reckless conduct. He left the formation at the door, ran into the parking lot and began blindly firing into the young woman’s window and patio door.

The results of the attorney general’s investigation are expected to be released soon. If no charges are brought, or if the charges are minor, the settlement announced this week may be the closest Ms. Taylor’s family comes to justice.

“This is a good first step,” said Sam Aguiar, one of the family’s lawyers. “The city obviously doesn’t have the power to bring charges which still rests in the hands of the attorney general. But what the city can do is change its police practices, and it can acknowledge through a settlement that a lot of things went wrong that night.”

He described the settlement as the largest in Louisville’s history for a police shooting. “It’s a marathon and this is the first mile,”

The largest publicly disclosed settlements in cases involving police killings have included a $38-million award to the family of a 23-year-old Maryland hairstylist Korryn Gaines, who was killed inside her apartment during a standoff with police, and $20 million to the family of a 40-year-old yoga instructor who was killed by an officer, when she approached his car in Minneapolis. A handful of other settlements have ranged from $18 to $13 million, but many families were forced to spend years litigating their loss in court.


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