With that of George Floyd, his name had been one of the most chanted during the anti-racism demonstrations in the spring of 2020. The United States Minister of Justice announced Thursday the prosecution of four police officers involved in the death of African-American Breonna Taylor , shot dead in her Louisville apartment in 2020 and become an icon of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Local justice had charged only one of the officers involved in the tragedy, not for the death of the young woman but for having “endangered” his neighbor by discharging his weapon through a partition. The acquittal in March of this policeman, Brett Hankison, was seen as a denial of justice by anti-racist activists.
“Cover up their misdeeds”
Federal justice, which conducted its investigation in parallel, finally decided to charge him “for excessive use of force”, announced Minister Merrick Garland at a press conference.
She also charged three of her former colleagues with lying about the search warrant that sparked the tragedy. “The defendants knew that the warrant contained false and misleading information and that others had been omitted,” Merrick Garland told a press conference.
They “knew it could create a dangerous situation and we submit that these unlawful acts resulted in the death of Miss Taylor,” he added. The three agents, who had not taken part in the raid, had then “taken measures to cover up their misdeeds” and in particular lied to the FBI, according to the minister.
“No knock” mandate
On March 13, 2020, three Louisville police officers broke into the home of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old caregiver, in the middle of the night as part of a drug trafficking investigation targeting her former boyfriend.
His new companion, Kenneth Walker, believed they were burglars and fired a shot with a legally owned gun. The police responded and Breonna Taylor received around 20 bullets.
The agents had a so-called “no knock” warrant, authorizing them to break down the door without warning. They claim to have announced themselves all the same, which Kenneth Walker disputes.
The death of Breonna Taylor did not attract much attention at first, but she returned to the front of the stage as part of the major anti-racism demonstrations which shook the United States after the death of George Floyd, a black 40-year-old suffocated by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, was set ablaze in September 2020, when the prosecutors had given up prosecuting the other police officers involved in the tragedy and had retained only an additional charge against Mr. Hankison.