Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, called on President-elect Joe Biden to open “large scale federal investigations into cases of police brutality” in a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post this week.
“Actions speak louder than words. We need your actions to show that you are different from those who pay lip service to our losses while doing nothing to show that our loved ones’ lives mattered,” read Palmer’s letter, which was published in Tuesday’s paper.
The ad points to a website, bidenjusticedemands.com, which outlines more specific criminal justice reforms that would not necessarily require a congressional majority to accomplish.
Taylor died when Louisville, Kentucky, police officers burst unexpectedly into her home last winter and sprayed her with bullets during a botched raid. None of the cops involved have been charged with causing her death; one, Detective Brett Hankison, was charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for the incident in September.
“For many Americans, a vote for you was a vote for Breonna, Jacob Blake, Casey Goodson and so many others who have been failed repeatedly by the criminal justice system under the current administration,” Palmer told Biden in her letter. “These victims could not vote for you ― so millions of us did on their behalf.”
She called on the president-elect to appoint Justice Department officials “with a proven record of holding police accountable” and to reopen unspecified investigations into police brutality that were “not properly completed before the Obama administration ended.”
Finally, Palmer asked that the Biden administration look into police departments “known to cause harm across the country.” She recalled a discussion with Biden that she said gave her hope for the future, and urged him to keep his promises.
No body camera footage captured Taylor’s death, according to police. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has maintained that the plainclothes officers never identified themselves before using a battering ram to enter the home at 1 a.m. local time, although Louisville police say they did identify themselves. Walker used his firearm against the intruders, shooting one officer in the leg.
Hankison was fired over the summer. The other officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove, were placed on administrative leave.
The trio was attempting to execute a “no knock” warrant on the apartment, believing that a suspect in a drug ring was receiving packages there, even though the suspect had already been arrested earlier in the day.
Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was struck six times. Only one of the shots was fatal. An FBI investigation into the incident opened in May is still ongoing.
Outrage over Taylor’s death fueled civil rights demonstrations over the summer that were sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who died after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
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