Breonna Taylor’s family pushes for nationwide change in police departments

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The family of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old woman shot and killed by Louisville police officers, want people to push for change in police policies in cities everywhere.

Protestors here in Memphis and across the nation shout the name Breonna Taylor, bringing attention to the horrible way she died. Police serving a no-knock drug warrant shot and killed Taylor inside of her home.

Her family now wants people to do more than just say her name.

 “Breonna spent her life wanting to save lives and it is our hope and we’re going to continue to push that in her death we’ll save more lives. We want to ensure that no one else dies in the manner that she died, and that’s what we’re pushing for,” said attorney Lonita Baker.

Baker leads the charge for Taylor’s family to change laws in Louisville and in cities across the country, like Memphis. Louisville police officers stormed the young woman’s home at midnight looking for a drug suspect. They didn’t find a suspect or drugs, but they shot her eight times.

“They want to ban the use of no knock warrants across the country and they want it mandatory that officers wear body cameras. Not just wear them but are required to activate them as well,” Baker said.

The three officers involved in the March 13 shooting are still on the payroll. Breonna’s family wants them fired and charged criminally for their actions.  They never activated their body worn cameras, and while officers indicate they knocked and announced police, neighbors and Breonna’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker,  a licensed gun owner who survived and shot back, wounding one of the officers, says they did not announce.

“We are up to at least 12 neighbors who did not hear police announce themselves. And Kenny just did not know who was coming into his home,” Baker said.

WREG’s reporting throughout the years, shows Memphis Police also with a history of executing no knock warrants, which gives them the option to knock if they want.

The most high-profile incident in 2012 cost Memphis Police officer Martoyia Lang her life.  Officers serving a no knock drug warrant stormed a house. One of the men inside, Treveno Campbell, fired his gun killing Lang and injuring another officer. MPD says they announced who they were.

Campbell, who had no prior criminal history, disputed that and said he thought someone was breaking in. Still, a jury convicted him of second-degree murder and sentenced him to 40 years in prison. He continues to appeal.

Read more: Treveno Campbell sentenced in killing of Officer Martoiya Lang

“There’s no amount of drugs that justify the risk associated with no knock warrants. That risk again is not only to civilians but to law enforcement officers as well,” Baker said.

Four years after Lang’s death Memphis Police officers now wear body cameras, but like in Kentucky, they’re sometimes turned off or never activated in volatile situations.

One case involved the 2019 shooting of Martavious Banks after a traffic stop. The three officers involved either deactivated or never turned on their body cameras. The district attorney declined to prosecute saying there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Officers were disciplined but not fired.

Read more: Body camera footage shows when officer in Martavious Banks shooting turned off camera during arrest

That was not enough for those now pushing for change.

“The penalty for officers failing to activate their body cameras needs to rise to the level of termination or even criminal charges. Minor disciplinary actions will not cut it,” Baker said.

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