Louisville to pay Breonna Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker $2 million to settle lawsuits
The boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, who fired a shot at police as they burst through Taylor's door the night she was killed, has settled two lawsuits against the city of Louisville, his attorneys said Monday.
The city agreed to pay $2 million to settle lawsuits filed by Kenneth Walker in federal and state court, one of his attorneys, Steve Romines, said in a statement. He added that Taylor's death "will haunt Kenny for the rest of his life."
"He will live with the effects of being put in harm's way due to a falsified warrant, to being a victim of a hailstorm of gunfire and to suffering the unimaginable and horrific death of Breonna Taylor," Romines said.
Walker and Taylor were settled in bed for the night when they were roused by banging on her apartment door around midnight on March 13, 2020. Police were outside with a drug warrant, and they used a battering ram to knock down the door. Walker fired a single shot from a handgun, striking Sgt. John Mattingly in the leg. Mattingly and two other officers then opened fire, killing Taylor.
The case highlighted the issue of "no-knock" warrants — which allow law enforcement agents to enter a home without announcing their presence — and led to a reexamination of the practice, as well as a federal investigation into the Louisville Police Department amid a national reckoning over systemic racism and police brutality.
Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but charges against him were eventually dropped as protests and news media attention on the Taylor case intensified in the spring of 2020. The charges were dropped without prejudice, which technically meant that they could be refiled.
Walker and his parents discussed Taylor's death, his being labeled a suspect, and the emotional trauma he grappled with in the aftermath, during an interview with "CBS Mornings" co-host Gayle King in October 2020.
"I've only listened to that 911 call once or twice," said Walker's dad, Kenneth Walker Jr. "And it took me months to listen to it. And the thing is, his whole life, I've always been there to help him, or to be there for him. And I couldn't help him."
"And, I mean, think about it. Reality is, he's still a suspect in their mind ... He's still their scapegoat," said his mother, Velicia Walker.
"You know, the simple lessons that we teach them, that we hold true as parents. The lessons that we try to, you know, 'Ain't nothing good for you going on at the street. Stay at home,'" she added. "Here you are, this one time, you at home. And you get in the worst trouble you've ever been?"
Walker told investigators he didn't know police were at the door, and he thought an intruder was trying to break in.
Earlier this year, U.S. Justice Department prosecutors charged four Louisville officers with a conspiracy to falsify the Taylor warrant. One of the now-former officers, Kelly Goodlett, has pleaded guilty and admitted to helping create a false link between Taylor and a wanted drug dealer.
Walker wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post in August that a police officer had "finally taken some responsibility for the death of my girlfriend."
"Knowing all the problems that this failed raid would create, the Louisville police tried to use me as a scapegoat to deflect blame," he wrote. "It almost worked."
Two other former officers involved in the warrant, Joshua Jaynes and Kyle Meany, are scheduled to go on trial in federal court next year.
The city of Louisville paid a $12 million settlement to Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, in September 2020.
Walker's attorneys said Monday that part of the settlement he received would be used to set up a scholarship fund for law school students interested in practicing civil rights law. Another portion will be contributed to the Center for Innovations in Community Safety, a police and community reform center at Georgetown Law School.
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