Continued Detours from Justice in the
Breona Taylor Murder
by Jamala Rogers
The news of Jonathan Mattingly filing any kind of lawsuit was outrageous. It was more
salt in the wounds of injustice surrounding the murder of Breona Taylor by three
Louisville cops. This is proof positive that the Louisville police department refuses to be
accountable for a botched no-knock raid. No justice for Taylor, her family and the
community are in sight. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend and lone survivor of the raid,
has become the system’s diversionary target for retaliation.
Back in early spring, three white cops, Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove and Brett
Hankison kicked in the door of Breona and Kenneth under the guise of serving a no-
knock drug warrant. Walker alleged there was no warning of the identity of police and so
he concluded they were intruders and opened fire on them. When the rounds of bullets
stopped, Breona Taylor, lay dead in the hallway. The young medical tech took six bullets
and Mattingly took one to the leg. No drugs were found inside the apartment.
The angry reaction by the Louisville community was quick and explosive. Demands for
justice reverberated across the country. The cover-up by police was immediate.
Walker was charged with attempted murder and assault, an action believed to divert the
attention away from the actions of police. It undoubtedly put Walker on the defense but
his account of the middle of the night raid has never wavered. His actions were in self-
defense. The charges were ultimately dropped, but now he faces a civil suit by Mattingly
for emotional stress, battery and assault.
Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing bullets into
an adjacent apartment with three people inside. No one in that unit was injured.
Hankison was fired in June for his violation of department policy during the raid. Not
one of the officers were charged in the deaths of Taylor and their deadly actions have
been defended by the department.
Another interesting twist in this case is the actions of grand jury members who insisted
on making public the recording of its proceedings and petitioned the courts to speak
publicly on the matter. This is quite different from how grand juries behave. Many
consider grand juries to be extensions of the prosecutor’s authority, often assembled to
“indict a ham sandwich.” There are lots of serious questions that have emerged
including if the grand jury received all of the evidence in the case and if they received
proper instructions about who could be indicted.
The Taylor family has been awarded a record $12 million dollars for the wrongful death
of their loved one. The Louisville community has been promised several reforms. What
both desperately continue to demand are criminal charges by the officers involved in the
death of Breona.
Demands for justice must go beyond individual settlements and a few firings. The
systems that protect the lawlessness of officers must be confronted with intention and
fervor. Police shootings and killings have not stopped. We know the names of Mike
Brown, George Floyd and Breona Taylor, but there are many more. Lest we forget,
some of these stolen lives are recognized at the October 22 National Day Against
Police Brutality held in cities across the country for the last 25 years.
Rogue police departments and their prosecuting partners in crime have a long and
corrupt relationship that keeps them immune from any degree of accountability. Our
collective efforts are shaking up the system. Now it’s time to go in hard — defunding
police budgets to reallocate for human needs (especially during the pandemic) and
challenging police associations’ bargaining agreements that preserve the unmitigated
power of police.
Cleaning up the police abuse of authority is an important aspect of ensuring that Black