On March 13, Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times in her home by police

By Christine Pelisek
June 12, 2020 11:59 AM
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Breonna Taylor
| Credit: Breonna Taylor/instagram

Family members of Breonna Taylor, the Kentucky woman who was fatally shot in her home by police in March, are grateful that her name is being invoked in the protests against police brutality and systemic racism that followed the May killing of George Floyd.

“I'm glad they're saying her name,” Taylor’s cousin Tawanna Gordon tells PEOPLE. “We just want her legacy to stay out here. We just want people to know her story because she won't get to tell it. And we just want people to know, this is not something that is new. This is this longstanding, systemic issue.”

“I'm so grateful for people wanting justice, and just standing up and trying to be a voice for her,” Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer tells PEOPLE. “It's heartbreaking this stuff is just happening all over the world."

Palmer adds, "They are different situations, but it's the same thing happening over and over. Nobody deserves to lose anyone to these circumstances.”

On March 13, at around 12:30 a.m., Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was killed at her home by police officers who were investigating a drug dealer.

Although the dealer didn't live there (and had, in fact, just been arrested at a different location), officers alleged that he had once picked up a package at Taylor's residence. The officers had secured a “no knock” search warrant, allowing them to enter without warning.

Police have said they knocked and identified themselves before entering the home, but witnesses have disputed that claim.

"There was a loud banging, then the door flies off the hinges," says attorney Lonita Baker, who is representing Palmer in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the police officers.

A demonstrator holds a sign with the image of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville police, during a June 3 protest over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd.
| Credit: JASON CONNOLLY/Getty Images

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Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was with her at the time, said he thought it was a break-in. Walker shot his gun, hitting one of the officers in the thigh. The police fired back more than 20 shots, hitting Taylor at least eight times, killing her.

RELATED VIDEO: Breonna Taylor's Mom Worried Her EMT Daughter Would Get Coronavirus Before Police Fatally Shot Her

Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but those charges were dropped on May 22, after the FBI opened an investigation into the case.

The three officers — Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — were placed on administrative reassignment. None have been criminally charged.

Protests in Louisville honoring Breonna Taylor
| Credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

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Family members of Taylor, who was studying to become a neonatal nurse, hope that will change.

“She saved lives,” says Walker’s mother Velicia. “She encouraged people....  You've never seen in history, this kind of worldwide, nationwide coming together. Justice is going to be served, the truth is going to prevail. It's already changing.”

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

•Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

•National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.