2 Years After Breonna Taylor's Death, Her Family Continues Campaigning Against No-Knock Warrants

When Louisville police officers burst into Taylor's home while she was sleeping and fatally shot her in 2020, a movement began to abolish no-knock warrants. Two years later, the fight still isn't over

breonna taylor memorial
Breonna Taylor memorial. Photo: Jason Armond/Getty

Two years ago, on March 13, 2020, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was in her apartment with fiancé Kenneth Walker when shortly after midnight, Louisville Metro Police officers executing a "no-knock" search warrant charged through her front door.

Taylor was shot multiple times. She gasped for air for five minutes before dying on the floor of her home.

Police were executing a search warrant for an investigation into a suspected drug dealer, who police alleged had once retrieved a package from Taylor's home. But the suspected drug dealer didn't live in her building — and had, in fact, just been arrested at a different location.

Walker fired a warning shot as the officers breached the front door with a battering ram, and officers responded by firing several bullets into the apartment.

Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor. Breonna Taylor/instagram

Taylor became a face for the Black Lives Matter movement and her death led to a city-wide ban on no-knock warrants. Her unnecessary death, along with the murder of George Floyd two months later, sparked nationwide protests against police brutality.

"Breonna's legacy is very similar to Trayvon Martin's legacy," civil rights attorney Ben Crump tells PEOPLE. "Trayvon raised the consciousness level of Black Lives Matter; Breonna raised the consciousness level that Black women's lives matter."

Breonna's family has since pleaded for justice, pushing for criminal charges against the officers and a state and federal ban on no-knock warrants — while Louisville passed legislation on the matter, most jurisdictions haven't.

"No one should feel what we feel right now," says her cousin, Trisha Curry. "Breonna should still be here. There's no way someone should come in a residential apartment like that and shoot because you can't tell where your bullets are going to go."

"Unless somebody's life is in danger and it's a child, or they're threatening their own life, there shouldn't be a no-knock situation," says Breonna's aunt, Bianca Austin. "Possessions over people. It should not be a thing. We encourage people in this fight to put a ban on no-knock warrants in their community."

amir locke protest
Christian Monterrosa/AP/Shutterstock

In February, Breonna's family spoke out alongside the parents of 22-year-old Amir Locke, who was killed by Minneapolis police after they served a no-knock warrant on a home where he was temporarily staying.

Amir's death, says Curry, was a painful reminder of what happened to Breonna. "I saw the video," she says. "I felt like I lost Breonna again. Amir Locke's family should not feel the pain that we had to feel. They should not."

"Nothing shocks me in America anymore when it comes to police violating the constitutional rights of people of color," says Crump. "However, I thought if there was one place that would learn from the history lesson of the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor, it would be the city of Minneapolis who had just went through the George Floyd ordeal."

"It's just a constant reminder that we have to continue to be vigilant," he added.

Crump says there needs to be a policy shift where no-knock warrants "are not executed, only in the most extreme circumstances, if not outright abolished, because we saw with Amir Locke how dangerous these things become when you just have the right to go bust into some Black people's homes. And it's foreseeable that, with so many Americans availing themselves to their Second Amendment rights to defend their homes, it's not only dangerous for the police, but it's dangerous for the innocent Black people as well."

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Adding to the family's pain is the recent acquittal of former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison, the only officer to face charges in the botched raid. Hankison, who was terminated from the police department for his involvement in the raid was accused of wanton endangerment for firing into Breonna's neighbor's apartment.

"I was disgusted because for one, not only did you not give Breonna justice, but you also didn't provide that for her neighbors either," says Curry. "They are traumatized for the rest of their lives as well as we are."

"When we feel like we are moving 10 steps ahead, we get knocked back 12," says Austin. "And it's just like we have to keep building ourselves up to get back out here and put ourselves in the forefront. Just let people know that we're serious and we want accountability. And every day it feels like we are starting all over again."

"It was another slap in the face to Breonna and Black women who are killed by the police, because hardly ever are police officers ever held accountable when they kill Black women," says Crump. "It's a shame that we had to lose Breonna and Amir to make us try to focus in on this problem."

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