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Louisville Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Breonna Taylor Decision

Police officers operate a checkpoint and control vehicle access to downtown as the community awaits the grand jury decision in the case of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., September 22, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

The mayor of Louisville, Ky. declared a state of emergency on Tuesday “due to the potential for civil unrest” as the city braces for a decision on charges against the police officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor.

“Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. “At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe.”

Fischer issued two executive orders, one declaring a state of emergency in the city, which allows him to “exercise any of his emergency powers” including implementing a curfew if necessary, and another order restricting access to some downtown parking garages and banning street parking near Jefferson Square Park.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is poised to announce whether he will bring charges against the officers who shot and killed Taylor, a black 26-year-old emergency medical worker, on March 13.

Fischer stressed that he is unaware of when the attorney general’s decision will be revealed and does not know what it will be.

Taylor was shot eight times in her apartment as Louisville police officers executed a search warrant for two men who were known to reside there. The warrant was issued because police suspected that a man connected to a drug ring was receiving packages containing drugs at Taylor’s apartment.

Officers claimed they announced themselves when they entered Taylor’s apartment searching for illegal drugs and said they were “immediately met by gunfire” from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. A wrongful death lawsuit levied by Taylor’s family said that Walker, a registered gun owner, thought an intruder was breaking into the apartment. Walker fired what he called a “warning” shot with his gun, for which he has a Kentucky conceal-carry permit.

One of the police officers involved, Brett Hankison, who shot Taylor, has since been fired by the department. Chief of Police Robert Schroeder said Hankison “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment, demonstrating “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Two other officers involved in Taylor’s death have been placed on administrative reassignment as an investigation into the fatal incident progressed, but no officers have been charged.

Louisville has since banned no-knock warrants, the type that was issued for Taylor’s residence.

Last week, Louisville settled the wrongful death lawsuit with Taylor’s family and agreed to pay the family $12 million as well as institute a series of police reforms for the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Taylor’s name became known nationally during the protests against police brutality and racism that erupted after the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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