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Breonna Taylor's Boyfriend, Mom Tell Jada Pinkett Smith About Her Death On 'Red Table Talk'
Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother, and Kenny Walker, her boyfriend, joined Jada Pinkett Smith on her show "Red Table Talk" to discuss the night she was killed by police and the aftermath.
The family and boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville, Kentucky EMT shot and killed by police during the execution of an allegedly falsified no-knock warrant, joined Jada Pinkett Smith's "Red Table Talk" to discuss her killing and its aftermath.
Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by Louisville Police shortly after midnight on March 13, 2020 when several officers, including plainclothes officers, forced entry into her apartment on a no-knock warrant and allegedly failed to identify themselves. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker — a legal, registered gun owner — fired a warning shot.
In response, police officers both in and outside the apartment fired 32 shots in two volleys over the course of more then a minute, striking Taylor five times. Until federal civil rights charges were brought against four officers in the case in August, only one officer was prosecuted for his actions in the shooting: Brett Hankison, who was charged for wildly firing shots that entered a neighbor's apartment. He was eventually acquitted, but the federal civil rights case alleges he used excessive force.
The federal cases against the other three officers also allege that the search warrant contained deliberately false information, as did the investigative report created after Taylor's killing. After her death, her apartment was never actually searched.
Walker is the only person to serve any time in the case to date: He was initially charged with shooting at officers, but those charges were dropped with prejudice.
At Pinkett Smith's eponymous red table, Walker explained that he and Taylor had gone out to dinner and then fallen asleep in bed while watching the 2007 Hillary Swank movie "Freedom Writers."
"What place do you feel more safe than in the comfort of your own home?" he asked.
At around 1:00 a.m., they heard a banging on the door and both called out asking who it was without receiving a response.
"A couple of seconds go by," he said. "Now we're getting up, trying to put on some clothes and, you know, go see who's at the door."
There was a third knock, after which Breonna asked who it was again.
"So now, I was thinking that the police is way out of the question after you've banged on the door twice and not said it's the police," Walker told the table. "I'm not a criminal, a felon, she's not a criminal or felon. So we have no reason not to open the door even if it may have been the police — which, we don't have a clue who it is at this time."
Walker dialed 911 then grabbed his gun and went to the door of the bedroom, just as whomever was knocking broke down the front door.
"Am I supposed to stand there and say, ‘Oh, who's breaking in?’" he asked rhetorically. "Or am I supposed to do something about it right now?"
Police shot back more than 30 times, missing Walker entirely but hitting Breonna — unarmed and behind Walker in the couple's bedroom — five times.
He then realizes that there are police outside the apartment, and thinks they might be there in response to his 911 call.
"I'm right here, holding Bre as she's bleeding," he said. "I heard them yelling outside to come out."
As a Black man, he said he was not keen to go outside, but determined that the only way to get his girlfriend help is to go out.
"The only way for her to possibly even get some help is if I go outside, so either they're gonna shoot and kill me and then they come help her, or they're gonna talk to me and then they'll come help her," he explained. "Either way, I have to go outside."
Footage shows they lamented that Walker hadn't been shot, repeatedly threatened to shoot him or sic their dogs on him (despite him walking backwards with his hands over his head,) threatened to harm neighbors taping the scene with their cell phone and didn't go into the apartment with medical aid — despite Walker's pleas — for more than 30 minutes, stepping over Breonna's body to secure the apartment before checking her pulse.
Only then did officers note her EMT uniform and the fact that the raid team had shot through the walls and ceiling of Breonna's apartment and into her neighbors' walls.
Walker was arrested but, on the way to the station, he was told the raid was a mistake. He was not told that Breonna has been pronounced dead at the scene.
Breonna's family showed up at the scene shortly after the shooting in response to a pre-shooting call from Walker, but nobody told her mother that Breonna was dead until 11:30 a.m.
"Mind you, we had been out there since 1:00 a.m," Tamika Palmer said. "The detective comes back over and says it won't be much longer that we'll be able to get in there."
"I'm screaming at him, like, ‘Why won't you tell me where Breonna is? I need to know where Breonna is,'" she said. "And he just looks at me and says, ‘Well, ma'am, she's still in the apartment.’ And so I knew what that meant. I knew what it meant."
Palmer had been called to the scene by Walker, thinking that someone was breaking into the apartment.
"It wasn't until I heard on the TV that the police was in a shootout with a known drug dealer and seized Breonna's apartment," she said. "On the news that I learned that the police had shot her. 'Cause they never told me that when I was there."
One of the officers charged in the federal civil rights violation case, Kelly Goodlett, has pleaded guilty to helping falsify the warrant that led to the raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment and conspiring to create a false story to excuse the raid. She is reportedly cooperating with prosecutors in the case. She could face up to five years in prison when she is sentenced.