Breonna Taylor’s mother urges DOJ to charge officers two years after her daughter’s death

Courtesy of Bianca Austin

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — Two years after Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in her Louisville, Kentucky home, her mother met with officials at the Department of Justice, urging federal charges against the officers involved in her daughter’s death.

“The most important thing is to remember that Breonna didn’t deserve this,” her mother, Tamika Palmer, told reporters on Monday following the meeting with Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke and attorneys in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “She was at home, in her own home minding her business when these people kicked in her door and murdered her.”

A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to ABC News that Clarke and attorneys from the Civil Rights Division met with members of Taylor’s family and attorneys, saying, “This matter is currently under investigation and we have no further comment.”

Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Taylor’s family, told ABC News that the meeting at the DOJ lasted for 45 minutes and officials said that they were conducting a “thorough investigation.”

“We don’t want to have to come here next year this time and still not have decisions made,” Crump said.

“You have to think about it from the perspective of the Black community. There are charges brought against us for a lot less, so we hope that they are just as zealous in holding these police officers who killed Breonna Taylor accountable,” he added.

Following the press conference, which took place outside the National Council of Negro Women in Washington, D.C., the family, joined by advocates and leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement, walked to the DOJ to hand-deliver 18,000 signatures from people, calling for the officers to be held accountable.

The 26-year-old Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was fatally shot down on March 13, 2020, in a hail of bullets by plainclothes officers Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly. They were executing a “no knock” search warrant for Taylor’s ex-boyfriend for allegedly dealing drugs.

He was not at the residence, but her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, thought someone was breaking into the home and fired one shot from a 9 mm pistol at the officers. Mattingly was struck in the leg and three officers fired 32 shots into the apartment, killing Taylor, who was in her bedroom.

“No-knock” warrants, which are when officers don’t announce themselves before entering a home, have come under renewed scrutiny following the Feb. 2 fatal shooting of Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man who was killed during a raid by Minneapolis police officers.

“For the nation, it’s been two years and one day. For me, I’m trapped in March the 13th, 2020,” Palmer said. “I don’t know how people think I should just move on; that I should just walk away from this thing. Half my life has been spent being Breonna’s mother. It’s the only thing I’ve learned to do well in my life. It’s the thing that I’ll die for – fighting to make sure she gets justice.”

ABC News reached out to the attorneys representing Hankison and Cosgrove, but requests for comment were not immediately returned.

Mattingly’s attorney Kent Wicker told ABC News they have “no comment at this time.”

Hankison and Cosgrove were ultimately fired from the police department and Mattingly retired in 2021.

Taylor’s killing gained national attention and sparked nationwide “Black Lives Matter” protests in the summer of 2020 after the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minnesota, who died after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Six months after Taylor was killed, Kentucky Attorney General Cameron convened a grand jury to investigate possible charges against the officers.

The grand jury indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison in September 2020 on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for firing into the apartment directly behind Taylor’s, where three people were inside.

Earlier this month, a jury in Louisville found Hankison not guilty on all three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree.

But none of the officers were charged for their involvement in Taylor’s death – a decision that sparked widespread backlash from social justice advocates.

Amid a barrage of criticism, Cameron told ABC affiliate WBKO in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in October 2020 that the officers who opened fire were “justified” because they “returned fire after having been fired upon.”

He also defended his decision not to give the grand jury on the case surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor the option to consider murder charges.

“I fully take responsibility for the recommendation that we made,” he said at the time. “Based on the facts, that was the appropriate recommendation to make.”

Palmer said on Monday that Cameron and Kentucky “failed” her daughter and she is now asking the DOJ to “do the right thing.”

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ABC News’ Kendall Ross and Mark Osborne contributed to this report.

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