On March 13, Louisville Police Department served a no-knock warrant to the home of Breonna Taylor. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, heard intruders in his house, and did not hear them identify themselves as police. Neighbors have also stated they never heard anyone shout “police” while serving the warrant.
Walker, fearing intruders were breaking into his home, opened fire on the officers with his sidearm. Police returned fire, striking Breonna Taylor some eight times in her sleep. Taylor, 26, died from her injuries. The incident drew criticism from Black Lives Matter activists, and has received increased attention in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
On Friday, Louisville Mayor announced that Brett Hankinson, one of the officers involved in Taylor’s killing, will be discharged from the police department. The police department’s interim chief, Robert Schroeder, wrote that he was appalled by Hankinson’s actions. “I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion,” wrote Schroeder.
Tensions Boiling Over
“The result of your action seriously impedes the Department’s goal of providing the citizens of our city with the most professional law enforcement agency possible. I cannot tolerate this type of conduct by any member of the Louisville Metro Police Department,” Schroeder wrote of Hankinson. The decision to fire Hankinson comes amid widespread civil unrest over police use of force.
Police brutality has been a focus of the group “Black Lives Matter” since their inception in 2014. However, recent events, including the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, have led to increased focus being placed on the issue of police use of force against black people.
Widespread civil unrest and protests have been the norm in the US since Floyd’s death in late May at the hands of Minneapolis police. Many pundits have noted that the firing of Hankinson was likely a result of public outcry over the case. Protesters call for the police that shot Breonna to face murder charges, not simply a firing.
America Faces Uncertain Times
As the protests continue, the country faces an uncertain present and future. The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the nation. Many students are attending college on line, while internet commerce is up over physical shopping.
Some have noted the link between the current civil unrest and the widespread layoffs and closures caused by COVID-19. This year has been a major turning point in public perception. For the first time since 2014, national polls show a majority of Americans support Black Lives Matter protesters.