Story at a glance
- Twenty-six-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot in her home on March 13 by police officers who were investigating two men they believed to be selling drugs nearby.
- Many have been calling for criminal charges to be pressed against the officers involved. No charges have yet been placed against any of the three officers.
- On Tuesday, officer Brett Hankison was fired from his job, and the other two officers have been placed on administrative reassignment.
- Social media users are still actively posting about Taylor and demanding justice for her death.
It took five days following the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man in Atlanta, for the police officer who fired the shots to be faced with 11 criminal charges that include felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Yet more than three months have passed since the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician in Louisville, with no charges pressed against any of the officers involved. Taylor was shot in her home on March 13 after police officers entered while executing a search warrant — using a battering ram to enter by force. The police who entered her home were allegedly investigating two men they believed to be selling drugs out of a house approximately 10 miles away, and after a short altercation shot Taylor at least eight times, killing her.
“She had a whole plan on becoming a nurse and buying a house and then starting a family,” her mother Tamika Palmer told The Courier Journal. “Breonna had her head on straight, and she was a very decent person. She didn’t deserve this. She wasn’t that type of person.”
Police allege that they knocked several times and announced their presence before attempting forced entry shortly after midnight, and that they were “immediately met with gunfire.” This account is being hotly contested by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, who was licensed to carry a gun and fired it at an officer in the leg in self-defense. Unfortunately, there was no body camera footage from the raid.
Social media outrage
Since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Black Lives Matter movement has received an outpouring of support on social media, from the infamous #BlackoutTuesday to many users shifting the focus of their the content by uplifting the voices of individuals who are Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color (BIPOC) and sharing resources on where and how to donate to the cause.
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The hashtag #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor currently has nearly 400,000 posts on Instagram, with participation from celebrities such as Beyonce, who posted on Instagram and wrote a letter on her website addressed to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, demanding criminal charges be brought against the officers involved.
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Social media has the tendency to move on quickly, though, with a daily cycle of content “trending” or “going viral” before seemingly fading into the background just as quickly as it rose to the public eye.
The same wave of social media-based advocacy isn’t letting Breonna Taylor’s name slip from the headlines either, as clever Instagrammers have been proactive in posting seemingly mundane content about zodiac horoscopes and anagrams in order to divert attention back to Taylor’s death.
If you have an issue with the fireworks going off every night, did you know you can call 502.595.2300 and ask them to arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.— Tehsuan Glover (@TehsuanGlover) June 22, 2020
On Tuesday, the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) fired one of the police officers involved in the fatal shooting, Officer Brett Hankison.
A termination letter sent to Hankison released by the city’s police department Tuesday said Hankinson violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment. “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in the letter. “Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department.”
“It’s about damn time,” said Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s family.
While advocates and activists are encouraged by the progress, many are still calling for the arrest of Hankison and the two other officers involved, both of whom have been placed on administrative reassignment.
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I was driving 11.5 hours today but I wanted to post this! Better late than never! I literally cannot believe just one person was “fired” ....(probably got a job at some other police department) ...insanity! Please join me in shari g and spamming these names! #justiceforbreonnataylor #blacklivesmatter
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“Breonna Taylor was murdered by police on March 13 and the only consequence handed down so far is the firing of 1 police officer,” wrote Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “That’s not justice. Every officer involved in her murder must be arrested.”
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