Family of GR native killed by Kentucky police files suit

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids native is garnering national attention after an officer-involved shooting in Kentucky.

The Louisville Metro Police Department went to 26-year-old Breonna Taylor’s apartment around 12:30 a.m. March 13. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker were sleeping at the time.

An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker.
An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker.

Police say the officers knocked and announced themselves several times before forcing entry. They say they were immediately met with gunfire.

One LMPD officer was shot in the leg. Police say they began firing shots back. Taylor was shot eight times and died as a result.

Walker, who was later identified as the shooter, was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer. A unit with LMPD is now investigating the incident.

Taylor’s family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Attorneys for the family say the person police were looking was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, who she kept very little contact with. They say he did not live there and was not there when police were serving the warrant. They also say the officer’s story is not accurate.

“Neighbors say that they did not announce themselves. They did not knock. They did not hear anything outside of the banging in of the door,” said Attorney Lonita Baker on behalf of Taylor’s family. “Breonna and Kenny thought that their home was being invaded, burglarized so much so that Kenny called 911.”

Baker says police fired about 20 to 30 rounds through windows that were covered with blinds and drapes. She says several bullets went through neighboring apartments too.

Taylor was an EMT working at two Louisville hospitals at the time. Her family says she aspired to become a nurse.

An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor.
An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor.

Taylor grew up in Grand Rapids and went to Kelloggsville High School for a year before she moved to Louisville with her mother in 2007. Many of her family members still live in the Grand Rapids area and say this has been tough on them.

“To be shot that many times and no one there — I think it hurts more because we don’t know if she died instantly or suffered,” said the victim’s cousin Tawanna Gordon as she stood outside of her Grand Rapids home. “I can only imagine if she suffered, how much she called for her mother. That hurts because she didn’t have to die like that.”

Gordon says her family has taken to social media to get Taylor’s story more coverage. They say they didn’t get much traction until the story of Ahmaud Arbery, the jogger hunted down and killed by two white men in Georgia, became national news.

“We have all talked about Sandra Bland and all the other victims of police brutality and we’re thinking not our family,” said Gordon.

Gordon says now they want to make sure Taylor gets the justice she deserves.

“You can’t sleep while black, which is what Breonna was doing. You can’t walk. You can’t run. We need a better way to police — too many innocent lives are being taken,” Baker said.

The family says it hurts to know they will never see Taylor get married, have children or pursue her dreams.

“We miss you like crazy and we are so sorry this had to happen to you, but we know God does not take life unless he needs it,” said Gordon.

Gordon says they want LMPD to take responsibility for what happened and hold the officers involved accountable.

Taylor’s family’s attorneys say they’re asking the Kentucky Commonwealth Attorney to present to this case to a grand jury. They say they want criminal charges brought against the officers and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the incident.

News 8 reached out to LMPD for comment. The department said they could not comment on the pending investigation.