LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, and ABC News debuted a documentary Friday night about the life and death of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot in her apartment by Louisville police and has since become a national symbol for the racial justice movement.
The two-hour 20/20 and Courier Journal, special was a comprehensive look at the case that led police to Taylor’s apartment door on March 13, the ensuing investigation into her death, the protests that have gripped Louisville since May and Taylor’s legacy through police reform.
It features interviews with Taylor’s family and their attorneys, LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, reporters who have covered the story, as well as home videos and photos from Taylor’s life of her signing and goofing off with friends.
Here are five key takeaways from “Breonna Taylor: Say Her Name.”
‘To know her is to love her’
Taylor’s family and loved ones describe her as the “star of the show” and a “diva” who loved spending time with her family.
“To know her is to love her,” her mother, Tamika Palmer, said. “She’s so much like me, but she’s so much better than me.”
Palmer showed ABC her daughter’s scrapbook, including photos from prom and graduation, as well as notes she’d written.
“I was God’s blessing to my mother,” Palmer read. “She brought me into this world as her first child, her first baby girl. From this day forward, I was living to please my mother. I feel like I owe her the world.”
Palmer spoke with The Courier Journal in July about her decision to take up activism in the wake of Taylor’s death.
Ex-boyfriend’s ties led police to Breonna Taylor’s apartment
Louisville Metro Police officers were targeting Jamarcus Glover, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, as a part of an ongoing narcotics investigation.
For months, officers from a newly created Place-Based Investigations unit monitored Glover and his associates, tracking his car and setting up a camera outside his suspected drug house on Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville’s West End.
In January, police saw Glover drive to Taylor’s apartment 10 miles away and leave with a package before driving to a “known drug house.” Police believed Taylor might be holding drugs and cash for Glover, and Glover used Taylor’s address as his own, according to several records.
But, Glover told The Courier Journal in August Taylor was never involved in drugs or anything illegal, and said he only had clothes and shoes sent to her apartment.
Meanwhile, the warrant that LMPD obtained to search Taylor’s apartment has since been called into question.
Chaos ruled the night police killed Breonna Taylor
More than eight months after the shooting that left Taylor dead in her hallway, police and Taylor’s boyfriend still disagree about what unfolded around 12:40 a.m. when seven officers banged on the apartment door and forced it open with a battering ram.
Mattingly told The Courier Journal and ABC in an October interview he knocked on the door repeatedly, calling out that police had a search warrant.
Inside, Walker said he never heard them and thought intruders were breaking in.
After Walker fired one round from his Glock, allegedly striking Mattingly, police return fire. Mattingly shot six rounds, Detective Myles Cosgrove 16 and Detective Brett Hankison 10.
Taylor was struck six times, including in the pulmonary artery.
After Walker was ordered out of the apartment by police, officers asked if he or Taylor had shot at police. Walker lied and said it was Taylor, later telling police he had panicked when he said that.
SWAT officers hurried to the scene, believing Taylor might be armed and still inside the apartment. Hankison told other officers they encountered rifle fire, even though Walker fired a single shot from his legally owned Glock handgun.
SWAT arrived to see patrol cars everywhere and officers with guns aimed at Taylor’s apartment building.
“What the (expletive),” one officer can be heard saying on body camera footage. “Jesus.”
‘That’s it?’ after 1 officer is indicted
When a judge read the grand jury’s indictment on Sept. 23 in the Breonna Taylor investigation and everyone learned one officer was indicted, there was a common refrain: “That’s it?”
“That’s it?” Mattingly’s wife, Nicki Mattingly, said as they watched the news together in a moment captured on home video.
“That’s it?” protesters asked in Jefferson Square Park, the center of the Breonna Taylor movement in Louisville since May 28. “Is that the only charge?”
“What about the other two?” a woman asked.
“All of a sudden, all I hear is women wailing,” says Linda Sarsour, a co-founder of Until Freedom.
Hankison, who was fired from LMPD for shooting “blindly” into Taylor’s apartment, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment for bullets he fired into an occupied apartment next to Taylor’s, but not for endangering Taylor herself.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron told the public and reporters the grand jurors “agreed” Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in using deadly force.
Three grand jurors would later come forward to say they wanted to bring more charges against the officers.
Breonna Taylor’s legacy lives on as a symbol of a movement
Breonna Taylor has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements, with protesters across the world chanting her name and celebrities, athletes and politicians taking up her cause.
Since Taylor’s death, proposals for “Breonna’s Law” have emerged across the nation, seeking to ban the use of no-knock search warrants like the one obtained for her apartment.
Louisville banned the controversial warrants in June, and cities and police departments across the country have followed suit. Virginia also banned the practice last month, and lawmakers in Kentucky and Pennsylvania have proposed similar bills.
The changes are designed to strengthen officers’ connections to the community, reform the search warrant process and make officers more accountable and their actions more transparent.
“I hate that she had to die to be great,” Palmer said.
Follow Louisville reporter Tessa Duvall on Twitter: @TessaDuvall.