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City Of Louisville To Pay Settlement To Breonna Taylor's Family

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The city of Louisville will pay $12 million to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was the 26-year-old Black woman killed by police officers conducting a no-knock search warrant during a nighttime raid back in March. Her death has led to a national reckoning on police brutality against Black people. In addition to the payment, which was the largest in Louisville history, officials have also pledged to make a series of police reforms. And for more on all this, we're joined by Graham Ambrose of member station WFPL in Louisville.

Hey there, Graham.

GRAHAM AMBROSE, BYLINE: Thanks so much for having me.

KELLY: Glad to have you with us. What's been the reaction in Louisville to this $12 million settlement? It's a big payout.

AMBROSE: So there have been months of protests in Louisville - more than a hundred straight days, in fact, of people calling for justice after Breonna Taylor's death. Family attorney Ben Crump was at today's announcement with the mayor of Louisville and other officials. Here's what he had to say.

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BEN CRUMP: It had been so long getting to this day where we could assure that Breonna Taylor life wouldn't be swept under the rug like so many other Black women in America who have been killed by police.

AMBROSE: So this all began back on March 13, when police executed a nighttime no-knock warrant for a drug investigation at Breonna Taylor's apartment in Louisville. Taylor was in bed. Her boyfriend was there. And startled by the noise, he fired at what he thought were intruders. Police fired back. And, of course, as we know, Taylor was shot several times and died in her hallway.

KELLY: All right. And it's prompted all kinds of questions, as we've noted, about police and their behavior. And in addition to this settlement, the Louisville mayor, as we noted, has announced a series of police reforms. What exactly are they?

AMBROSE: Yeah, so one of them is that the city of Louisville plans to create an early warning system that tracks the use of force by police officers. It hopes that the department can use the information to see if certain officers use their weapons more than others. One of the officers involved in the Taylor case was fired for, quote, "wantonly and blindly firing 10 shots into Taylor's apartment."

Another reform that the mayor wants to put in place - now a commanding officer has to approve all search warrants. According to the suit filed by Taylor's family, the person of interest that police were looking for that night had already been taken into custody across town earlier that evening. No drugs were ever found in Breonna Taylor's apartment.

A third reform is that the city wants to create a housing and voucher program for officers to encourage them to live in lower-income Louisville neighborhoods. The goal is to get officers living in communities with poor relationships with the police, and it's thought that having officers as neighbors will make a difference.

KELLY: And meanwhile, there are investigations still ongoing into what exactly happened that night, including an investigation by the attorney general there in Kentucky. Where does that stand?

AMBROSE: Yeah, so the Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron was named a special prosecutor back in May. He's been examining the case, including the three officers involved that night. One has already been fired, and the other two are on administrative leave. The nightly protests here in Louisville have called for all three of them to be fired and arrested. Cameron is believed to be very close to wrapping up that investigation, although no exact timeline has been given. At that news conference today, activist Tamika Mallory said the $12 million city payout is one thing, but it's not enough.

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TAMIKA MALLORY: A settlement is restitution, but it's not arresting the cops. And we want to say today that the police officers responsible for killing Breonna Taylor must be arrested in order for the community to feel calm.

AMBROSE: In addition to the Kentucky attorney general's investigation, there are also federal investigations ongoing by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice - no word on when those might be wrapping up.

KELLY: In the 30 seconds or so we have left, Graham, would you just speak to the impact of today's developments on the wider movement trying to force a reckoning on police brutality against Black people?

AMBROSE: So today's announcement is historic. It's massive. It's large. And it's something of a victory for the protesters. People are celebrating. But this is not the end of their cause, and they're very, very clear that justice has not been served. One of the family attorneys said today that this is just the first mile of a marathon. And so you're going to see that the movement is going to continue because Breonna Taylor has become something much larger. She's really become the face of this large international movement.

KELLY: OK. That is Graham Ambrose of member station WFPL in Louisville reporting.

Thank you, Graham.

AMBROSE: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.