Louisville under state of emergency as city braces for Breonna Taylor decision

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signed an executive order Tuesday that places the city under a state of emergency as Louisville awaits a grand jury decision in the case of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician who died in a police raid at her apartment this year.

Fischer’s order would allow him to impose a curfew and a variety of other restrictions under his emergency powers “due to the potential for civil unrest,” according to a release from his office. The order follows a memo from Louisville Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder on Monday telling officers the department would be employing emergency guidelines effective immediately.

“In anticipation of Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement in the Breonna Taylor case, I am declaring a state of emergency for the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD),” the memo said.

Schroeder’s declaration was issued with an additional order that put a moratorium on officers’ vacation requests, canceling any time-off requests that have not already been approved. Officers will also work 12-hour shifts as part of the department’s emergency response plan, according to the memo.

It is unclear when the grand jury began deliberations, if they have begun at all. Sources previously said Cameron had been preparing to present evidence as early as last week.

Cameron is expected to make a public announcement of his office’s findings, along with a decision over whether to indict the three officers who fired into Taylor’s apartment during the raid in March.

Fischer insisted in a statement Tuesday that he did not know when the announcement would come.

“Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement,” Fischer said. “At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe.”

Taylor was in her home with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when Louisville officers raided the apartment after midnight on March 13. They were executing a warrant to search for drugs or cash from drug trafficking as part of an investigation involving her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer. Glover had been using Taylor’s address to receive packages, according to authorities.

No drugs or money were recovered during the raid, according to the search warrant inventory. Taylor, who had no criminal record, previously had worked as an emergency medical technician.

Officers have said they were fired upon as they entered the home. Taylor’s family has said Walker believed the home was being broken into and fired his legally owned gun to defend himself.

Sgt. Brett Hankison, who, according to his termination letter, shot 10 rounds blindly into Taylor’s apartment, was fired in June. The letter, posted to the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Twitter account, said he displayed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

A lawyer representing Hankison called the dismissal a “cowardly political act.”

Officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly have been placed on administrative leave, along with the detective, Joshua Jaynes, who requested the warrant.

Cosgrove, Mattingly and Jaynes along with three other officers — detectives Tony James, Michael Campbell and Michael Nobles — are all currently under internal investigation by the police department’s Professional Standards Unit in connection with the incident, police said.

“This investigation is being conducted to determine whether any departmental policies were violated,” Jessie Halladay, the police chief’s special adviser, said in a statement Tuesday. “There is no specific timeline on when that investigation will be completed.”

Taylor’s death galvanized many across the country to protest racial injustice, particularly following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died during an arrest in Minneapolis in May. Her image has been shared across social media as thousands of people, including NBA star LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey, have called for the officers to be charged in her death. Actresses Uzo Aduba and Regina King honored Taylor during Sunday night’s Emmy Awards by wearing shirts with Taylor’s name or face as they accepted their awards.

Authorities in Louisville are seemingly preparing for renewed protests if officers are not charged. Some federal office buildings in downtown Louisville were closed to the public this week, with the first-floor windows of the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse boarded up Monday.

The Police Department said on its Twitter account that it was also preparing for the announcement by placing “No Parking” signs on downtown streets. Sgt. Lamont Washington, a department spokesman, also said barriers will most likely be placed around downtown.

Aaron Jordan, founder of Black Complex Louisville, said that the “subliminal” moves felt like an indication of what people can expect the grand jury decision to be.

“Right now, a lot of us are pissed off,” Jordan said. “A lot of us are angry. A lot of us are sad, and a lot of people just don’t know what to feel.”

The city of Louisville settled a wrongful death suit filed by Taylor’s family for $12 million last week in an agreement that did not require the city to admit wrongdoing.

In late April, Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, sued the three officers involved in the raid. The lawsuit alleged that police used excessive force and that the search was grossly negligent. In an amended complaint filed in July, Taylor’s family asserted that the raid was connected to a gentrification project.

Palmer said at a news conference Tuesday that the settlement was “only the beginning of getting full justice” for her daughter.

“We must not lose focus on what the real job is,” Palmer said. “It’s time to move forward with the criminal charges, because she deserves that and much more.”