Breonna Taylor’s Life Was Changing. Then the Police Came to Her Door.

Before they ordered him to go back inside, Mr. Sarpee said, he heard at least three loud bangs as they knocked on Ms. Taylor’s door, and heard one or more officers scream “Police!” — a single time. He is emphatic that they said it only once.

Mr. Wine, the county prosecutor, said both the police version and Mr. Walker’s account of events could be correct: Through the door, he suggested, the police and the couple inside did not hear each other.

Because Mr. Walker said he did not realize who was at the door, he made a tragic assumption: The apartment was being broken into — and not just by anyone. He thought it was Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, he later told the police.

“We’ve been on and off together, whatever, for like, seven years,” he said. “So there was a guy that she was messing with, or whatever, throughout that time, you know. And he popped up over there once before while I was there, like, a couple months ago,” he explained. “So that’s what I thought was going on.”

Sergeant Mattingly said that as soon as the door was punched in and he cleared the threshold, he could see to the end of the long hallway. There, in silhouette, he saw a male and a female figure. The man’s hands were stretched out, holding an object.

“As we’re coming to the door, the door, like, comes off the hinges,” Mr. Walker said. “It’s like an explosion.” He went on: They were scared. He thought someone was breaking in. He was trying to protect his girlfriend. “So, boom, one shot. Then all of a sudden there’s a whole lot of shots,” he said. “I just hear her screaming.”

Kentucky law is clear: Under the stand-your-ground statute, citizens can use deadly force against an intruder inside their own home. But like numerous other jurisdictions, Kentucky also has a statute protecting police officers who use deadly force in self-defense.


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