CPE Statement on the Department of Justice Findings After its Louisville, Kentucky Investigation

March 09 2023

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a blistering report highlighting a pattern of discriminatory behavior against Black people by the Louisville, KY Metro Police Department (LMPD), and local government authorities, in violation of both the Constitution and federal law. The report arrives days ahead of the third anniversary of Breonna Taylor's killing, as she lay in bed, by LMPD officers.

DOJ's report chronicles a department that has consistently engaged in dangerous, dehumanizing, and violent conduct against Black people: using racist insults, throwing drinks at pedestrians from police cruisers, harassing the community with low-level traffic citations even as violent crime went unresolved, regular use of excessive force, searches conducted without valid warrants, and the frequent execution of no-knock warrants; it was in the course of a no-knock warrant that LMPD officers killed Ms. Taylor on March 13, 2020.

On that date, shortly after midnight, officers broke through the front door of Kenneth Walker, Ms. Taylor's boyfriend; the two were watching a movie in bed. Walker responded to what he believed to be a break-in with a single shot from a handgun. Several officers immediately opened fire indiscriminately, hitting Ms. Taylor five times. None of the officers provided any assistance as she lay on the floor for more than 20 minutes; according to the coroner, Ms. Taylor likely died within five minutes of being shot.

CPE welcomes DOJ's decision to hold LMPD accountable for the harm its officers, policies, and culture have wrought, appointing an independent monitor to oversee the department's conduct and committing to addressing the report's findings with the city. We wish to underscore, however, that the pattern of discriminatory, demeaning, and brutal behavior the report documents will come as no surprise to the Black people who have suffered at the hands of LMPD, each new trauma compounded by those that came before, for decades. We should furthermore be clear that none of these actions can reverse that harm or provide justice for Ms. Taylor; justice would be Louisville's Black communities bearing no history of police-imposed traumatization. Justice would be Ms. Taylor, at home and alive.

 To date, the only officer charged by the State of Kentucky in Ms. Taylor's case, Brett Hankison, was indicted for endangering her neighbors, not for gunning Ms. Taylor down in bed; he was ultimately acquitted at trial. Three other former LMPD officers–Kelly Goodlett, Joshua Jaynes, and Kyle Meany–were charged in August 2022 in federal court with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and civil rights violations for conspiring to mislead the judge who approved the no-knock warrant in the execution of which Ms. Taylor was killed; Mr. Hankison was also charged with civil rights violations. Ms. Goodlett pleaded guilty to the charges later that month; the other cases are ongoing.

CPE is mindful that, while such announcements, reports, investigations, and trials are crucial to the process of seeking accountability, they also re-traumatize those who have been affected by LMPD's actions. We stand in solidarity with all who have been victimized by the racist behavior, policies, and culture of Louisville-area authorities and send our wishes for peace and continued healing to Louisville's Black communities and Breonna Taylor's loved ones. 

CPE remains wholly committed to advancing the work of racial liberation, toward a future in which such losses will no longer have to be endured.