Breonna Taylor’s Family Paid One of Largest Police Killing Settlements in History

By Shani Saxon Sep 16, 2020

As the country continues to await Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron‘s announcement on whether charges will be filed against the officers involved in the shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, the city of Louisville on Tuesday (September 15) announced a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family, The Washington Post reports. Sam Aguiar, an attorney for the Taylor family, told The Post that this agreement, which includes some policing reforms, is “among the largest payouts for a police killing in the country’s history.”

Reports The Post:

The settlement, which follows a wrongful-death lawsuit that Taylor’s family filed in May, requires police commanders to approve all search warrant applications that are submitted to a judge, said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D) during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Louisville police will also have to conduct extensive risk assessments before applying for a warrant.

At least two officers now will be required to have their body cameras turned on when money seized during an investigation is impounded, being counted or processed, Fischer said. And in an effort to bolster the police department’s ties to the community, officers will be given up to two hours per week of paid time for community service, and the department will explore incentives for officers to live within certain low-income areas of the city.

The city also has agreed to hire more mental health experts and pair them with officers who respond to calls, Fischer said.

“This settlement is of mutual interest,” Aguiar told The Post. “The city was able to afford this level of justice, and Breonna Taylor’s mother has been adamant from day one that reform was needed to reduce the likelihood that no other family has to endure this type of tragedy.”

As progressive as the Taylor agreement appears to be, it does not include “an admission of wrongdoing by the city or the police officers involved in the raid,” Fischer said at Tuesday’s press conference. In spite of this, Taylor’s family has no plans to file additional lawsuits, Lonita Baker, another attorney for the Taylor family, told The Post. 

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing Taylor’s family, spoke to CNN and said he believes Taylor’s settlement agreement is “one of the largest amounts ever paid out for a Black woman killed by police in the U.S.” 

According to The Post, settlement amounts in deadly police shootings have a wide range:

In a 2015 Washington Post account of awards in civil lawsuits, payouts ranged from $7,500 to $8.5 million. Last year, the city of Minneapolis settled a lawsuit with the family of 40-year-old [white woman] Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who was shot by an officer after calling 911 about a possible crime, for $20 million.

Some of the highest-profile deaths in police custody in recent years have resulted in settlements of around $6 million. New York City in 2015 resolved a lawsuit with the family of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man who died after being put in a police chokehold, for $5.9 million. Baltimore agreed to pay $6.4 million to the family of Freddie Gray, who died a week after suffering a severe spinal injury while handcuffed in a police van. And the city of Cleveland settled a lawsuit with the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by police while playing with a toy gun in a park, for $6 million in 2016.

Baker told The Post that Taylor’s family will continue to demand that criminal charges be filed in this case. “Justice for Breonna Taylor is multilayered,” she said. “What we were able to accomplish today through the civil settlement against the officers is tremendous, but it is only a portion of a single layer.”

Until Freedom, a New York-based advocacy group co-founded by Tamika Mallory has been heavily involved in the movement demanding justice for Breonna. The group released a statement obtained by The Post, stating, “No amount of money will bring back Breonna Taylor.”

“We see this settlement as the bare minimum that one can do,” the statement continued. True justice is not served with cash settlements. … We need accountability. We need justice.”

In June, the Louisville City Council passed "Breonna’s Law," banning "no-knock" search warrants in a unanimous 26-0 vote