From Award-Winning EMT to Tragedy: Honoring the Life of Breonna Taylor

The U.S. has erupted in protests over the last few weeks over the death of several African Americans, including George Floyd of Minneapolis, MN, and Breonna Taylor of Louisville, KY. George Floyd died after trying to pay for groceries with a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. Police officer Derek Chauvin then held him to the ground for over eight minutes as he screamed for air.

Breonna Taylor was asleep on the couch in her home after watching a movie with her friends when the cops showed up at the front door with a no-knock warrant, looking for drugs that they never found. Her boyfriend thought someone was trying to break into the house at the time, considering the police did not announce their presence. Her boyfriend fired a warning shot out of fear. The cops responded by spraying 20 rounds of bullets into the house, shooting Breonna eight times.

The tragedy has rocked the Louisville area, as well as the rest of the country, and now the Louisville Chief of Police has agreed to resign. Let’s take a few moments to honor Breonna Taylor and the person she was before her life was cut short.

Proud to Be an EMT

Last Friday would have been Breonna’s 27th birthday. She had recently earned her license as an EMT and she looked forward to a long career of helping others. During the pandemic, she was working on the front lines as an emergency medical transport officer. She spent her days responding to emergency calls and stabilizing patients who were suffering inside their homes.

As her mother Tamika Palmer said of her commitment to helping others, “She was an essential worker. She had to go to work. She didn’t have a problem with that.” She was known as a selfless, positive individual who always put the needs of others before her own. She ultimately gave her life to her community, sparking a national conversation on the nature of policing in this country.

How Did This Happen?

It’s unclear what the Louisville police were thinking when they arrived at the home of Breonna on March 13th. The police already had a man in custody whom they believed was responsible for trafficking drugs throughout the community, so her family members aren’t sure why they came to her house that night.

The incident has put a spotlight on the use of no-knock warrants by the police. Many are calling on the police to do away with no-knock warrants all together, as they are not in the best interest of the community. According to recent reporting by the Washington Post, the no-knock warrant used by the police was illegal.

The chief of police Steve Conrad has also announced that he plans to retire in June, ending his eight-year tenure in the position. Conrad has come under fire in years past for failing to acknowledge the rise in homicide throughout the city. He has also been accused of covering up investigations against other officers, including an incident in which several officers were accused of sexually harassing teenagers.

The FBI has also said that it plans to investigate the murder of Breonna Taylor, including what happened that night as well as a history of brutality among the Louisville Metro Police. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner,” according to the Louisville FBI office.

Since Breonna’s death, Tamika Palmer says no one has bothered to give her any answers about the death of her daughter. Neither the Louisville Metro Police nor Major Greg Fisher have reached out to her personally. As she said in a recent interview, “I want justice for her. I want them to say her name. There’s no reason Breonna should be dead at all.”

Breonna’s death is just one of the many recent killings of unarmed African Americans in this country. The city of Louisville has been teeming with protests since that fateful night. Her name has appeared all over the country as protests continue in dozens of cities and towns. While the police that showed up at Breonna’s door may have been afraid for their lives, they had no reason to fire 20 bullets into her home that night. If the police had announced their presence and spoken to the person at the door, this entire tragedy may have been avoided.

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