UPDATED: 1:15 p.m. ET —
The Kentucky city of Lousiville has reached a multi-million dollar settlement over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor despite any semblance of justice having been served in the case that critics have called a “murder.” The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that the settlement was “as high as $12 million,” according to an anonymous source.
The actual amount was not expected to be confirmed until later Tuesday afternoon.
The city took steps to settle the civil lawsuit brought by Taylor’s family even though the police officers who killed Taylor — a 26-year-old essential worker who was shot during a botched execution of an unmerited and arguably illicitly obtained no-knock warrant served at her home on March 13 — have avoided criminal charges and remained free.
It was unclear how authorities decided on the monetary figure more than six months since Taylor was killed in her own home. But it did beg the question: How much is Black life worth?
Taylor’s family in May sued Louisville for wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence, claiming in part that Louisville Metro Police Department officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankinson and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly “entered Breonna’s home without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers. The Defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life.”
Ben Crump, one of the civil rights attorneys representing Taylor’s family, has announced he will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to address the settlement and other development in the case.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced last week that he had finally empaneled a grand jury to decide whether Cosgrove, Hankinson and/or Mattingly should be charged criminally for their roles in Taylor’s killing.
The settlement in Taylor’s case “is expected to dwarf the biggest payout previously made by police,” the Courier-Journal reported. That was for $8.5 million in 2012 and involved wrongful imprisonment, not death. “In addition to the payment, the deal is expected to include several policing reforms, including a requirement that commanders approve all search warrants before they go to a judge,” the Courier-Journal also wrote.
A closer look at police settlements in recent years shows they fluctuate wildly for similar deadly offenses committed by police officers and departments.
In 2018, Baltimore County was ordered to pay $38 million for the fatal shooting of Korryn Gaines, a 23-yea-old killed in a six-hour standoff with police that also injured her young son in 2016.
Government officials, typically with no apology to victims’ families, have been effectively writing checks and moving on with their lives. The settlement amounts in high-profile cases vary, ranging from the $6 million each for the shooting deaths of Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray to just $1.5 million for Michael Brown to a Minnesota town placing a value of $3 million on Philando Castile’s life.
Also in 2018, Tulsa County in Oklahoma settled a civil rights lawsuit with the family of Eric Harris for $6 million. The settlement came three years after a volunteer deputy shot Harris—claiming that he thought his gun was a Taser—while officers restrained the suspect.
This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.
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