LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s been four months since Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was killed in a hail of bullets by cops breaking into her apartment in a late night “no-knock” raid here.
Outrage over her death has become a prominent part of hundreds of demonstrations against police brutality and killings in cities and towns nationwide, and around the world. But unlike in the case of George Floyd, where charges were brought within 10 days against the four cops who killed him in Minneapolis May 26, none of the cops involved in killing Taylor have been arrested.
“All this time and still no charges against any of them,” Katrina Curry, Taylor’s cousin, told the Militant July 10. “We have been working so hard on this and a lot of people have spoken up, but still there are no moves toward justice.”
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is now in charge of handling the killing, told the media July 13 there is still no timetable for making a decision whether to prosecute the cops. He also said he was against making any information they’ve uncovered about the killing public until the case is closed.
Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s family, said they are concerned about the delay, but he’s hopeful it is because prosecutors are “working hard to put back together anything that was lost as a result of a cover-up” by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
The family has filed a lawsuit against the cops.
Efforts to press this fight for arrest and prosecution have broadened into artistic expression and sports as well. This includes a 7,000-square-foot mural of Breonna Taylor painted by some 40 volunteers over the Fourth of July weekend in Annapolis, Maryland. For the opening weekend of the Women’s National Basketball Association season later this month, players plan to feature Breonna Taylor’s name on their uniforms.
Three plainclothes cops — Myles Cosgrove, Brett Hankison and Jonathan Mattingly — broke down the door to Taylor’s apartment March 13. Responding to this intrusion, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one bullet that hit one of them in the leg. The cops then fired over 20 rounds into the apartment, killing Taylor. Some shots hit other apartments, including one with a 5-year-old child. None of the cops recorded body camera video of the assault.
Immediately after the shooting, Walker called 911 pleading for help. “Somebody kicked in the door, shot my girlfriend,” he said, not realizing it was cops who killed Taylor. While the cops walked free, Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder. As the facts of the raid came out and protests began, charges were dropped.
All three cops were placed on administrative leave. But it wasn’t until June 23 that one of them, Hankison, was fired.
“This is an example of how differently workers like us are treated,” Defrederic Roberts, a factory worker who has joined rallies against the killing of Taylor here, told the Militant July 11. “If you or I had shot someone we would be in jail.
“I think it is very important that we fight this. If the cops get away without being charged in this case that is so much in the spotlight, they’ll feel like they can do anything and get away with it,” he said.
Some 500 people joined Taylor’s family to rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Frankfort June 25, demanding the cops who killed Taylor be prosecuted.
Violin vigils for Elijah McClain
Vigils by violinists and other musicians to honor the life of Elijah McClain, who played the violin to soothe the animals at local shelters, continue to be organized in cities around the country. The cops in Aurora, Colorado, killed 23-year-old McClain last August after they stopped him while he was walking home from a convenience store. They said they had received a complaint that a young Black man was acting “suspicious.” McClain was wearing a mask and waving his arms, which he routinely did outside because he had anemia, a blood condition.
One of the officers put McClain in a chokehold and he was physically restrained harshly. Then the cops had paramedics inject him with a high dose of the sedative ketamine. The shot was set to sedate a 240-pound man. McClain weighed 140. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital. None of the three officers involved in McClain’s killing have been charged.
A large vigil and violin musical commemoration took place in Aurora June 27, with dozens of string musicians flying in from around the country to join family members. Similar musical vigils have taken place in Cincinnati, New York, Boston, New Orleans, Chicago, Portland, Oregon, and other places.
In Philadelphia two candlelight vigils are planned, one July 15 in Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia, and another July 19 on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
National Mothers March
Other protests targeting police killings are continuing across the country. Over 1,000 people joined the National Mothers March Against Police Violence to the Minnesota state Capitol in St. Paul July 12. Over 100 mothers and other family members of victims of cop violence led the march, coming from Georgia, Florida, Colorado, New York, Ohio, Missouri and California.
“The killings are not going to stop if we don’t fight,” Jennie Ruiz told the Militant at the rally. Ruiz is the sister of Charlie Salinas, who was killed by cops in 2012 in Sanger, California.
The cops who killed Salinas were let off by a jury who bought their defense that they shot him because they feared for their lives. Salinas was a 46-year-old former Marine who had decided to commit “suicide by cop.” He called 911 and said, “I’m going to kill myself.” He claimed he was armed and asked the dispatcher to send the cops. “When they get here, tell them to shoot me,” he told her. He then said he would not hurt the officers, something he also told the cops who arrived.
He followed the cops’ instructions when they got to him and the cops admitted they never saw any weapons. But, saying he seemed to be reaching for his waistband, they opened fire with assault rifles, shooting off 22 rounds, killing him. He wasn’t armed.
Helen Meyers and Zena Jasper in Minneapolis contributed to this article.