State of emergency issued in Louisville ahead of Breonna Taylor decision

A state of emergency has been declared in Louisville, Kentucky, in anticipation of protests as the city awaits an imminent grand jury decision on the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was woken from her bed before being shot several times after police burst into her apartment at night using a so-called “no knock” arrest warrant that did not require them to announce themselves.

Police typically use them in drug cases over concerns that evidence could be destroyed if they announce their arrival.

Breonna Taylor was a qualified emergency medical technician. Pic: Family
Image:Breonna Taylor was a qualified emergency medical technician

The warrant used, however, was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside the home. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.

Ms Taylor’s death sparked months of protests in the city, with the demonstrations intensified by the high-profile killings of other unarmed African Americans by police, such as George Floyd in Minneapolis and Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York.

An investigation into the shooting is now drawing to a close, with the state attorney general, Daniel Cameron, expected to shortly announce whether he will charge the officers.

Protesters
Image:Protesters call for justice for Ms Taylor

In preparation for the grand jury decision and any ensuing protest, the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) has declared a “state of emergency”, which means all off-days and vacation will be cancelled and officers will be expected to work 12-hour shifts.

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Federal buildings in downtown Louisville have closed, according to local news station WAVE 3, and federal forces have been summoned to protect them.

The department announced early on Tuesday morning its plans to restrict vehicle traffic downtown “due to increased attention and activity in anticipation of an announcement” and to “ensure the area is as safe as possible for those coming downtown to express their first amendment rights”.

Attention: Anyone with upcoming business downtown #LMPDpic.twitter.com/FL37wjGpBj

— LMPD (@LMPD) September 22, 2020

“While we do not know when the attorney general will make his announcement, LMPD is taking the following actions now to ensure the area is as safe as possible for those coming downtown to express their First Amendment Rights, as well as those who live and work in the area,” it said on Tuesday.

The force added: “We recognise that this is an inconvenience, and will cause difficulty for those that live, work and have business downtown, and we apologise for this inconvenience.

“However, public safety is our number one priority, and it would be irresponsible if we did not take pre-emptive action to preserve it.”

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Last week, the city of Louisville settled a lawsuit from Taylor’s family for $12m (£9.4m) and pledged several police reforms as part of the agreement.

Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said at a news conference: “I cannot begin to imagine Ms Palmer’s pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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