Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend says police didn’t try to save her as she lay dying

Guardian staff and agency
·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Timothy D Easley/AP</span>
Photograph: Timothy D Easley/AP

Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, found out from the news that the woman he had hoped to marry and who had just been shot by police in a botched raid on her apartment had died.

He also revealed in an interview broadcast on Wednesday morning that law enforcement officers who searched the apartment after she had been shot in a hail of bullets did not appear to try to save Taylor as she lay on the floor.

Swat team video shows officers calling the area “a crime scene”.

“Let’s go ahead and move out. All right, she’s done,” an officer can be heard saying.

Walker spoke of how he had called 911 as Taylor had collapsed bleeding, then when he went to the door to get help, he was taken away by the police and only learned later that Taylor had died.

“They’re still, like, casing the apartment with her laying right there on the ground,” Walker said. “Disrespectful.”

Police conducted a botched night raid on Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. As they crashed through the door, Walker, who was there with Taylor, fired one shot at what he thought were intruders, striking and injuring one of the three police officers. They opened fire and killed Taylor.

Last month a grand jury declined to charge any of the three officers directly in relation to Taylor’s death. Breonna Taylor’s name has been chanted thousands of times since the spring in protests across the country and internationally, calling for an end to police brutality and structural racism in America.

Walker described to CBS’s Gayle King in his first TV interview, broadcast on Wednesday morning, how the evening had unfolded.

He said the pair had been watching a movie in bed when police raided the apartment as part of a narcotics investigation, and shot Taylor dead.

A man pauses at the memorial of Breonna Taylor before a march, after a grand jury decided not to bring homicide charges against police officers involved in the fatal shooting.
A man pauses at the memorial of Breonna Taylor before a march, after a grand jury decided not to bring homicide charges against police officers involved in the fatal shooting. Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters

“To the world she’s just a hashtag, a picture, and all of that,” he said. “But to me it was much more. More than a girlfriend too. I think that’s what I want the world to know the most. That was my best friend … The most important person, pretty much, to me on Earth. And they took her.”

CBS noted in its report that neither Walker nor Taylor have criminal histories, and no illegal drugs were found at the scene. The officers had been investigating Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, who did not live at her address. On the night of 13 March they entered the apartment using a so-called no-knock warrant.

“It was a normal day … you know, we went on a date, we went out to eat,” Walker recalled. He then described “a loud bang at the door” but received no response when they called out asking who was there.

“I’m a million per cent sure that nobody identified themselves,” he said. “If they had knocked on the door and say who it was, we could hear them. It was dead silent.”

Feeling “deathly afraid”, Walker said the couple scrambled to put on some clothes to make themselves “decent to answer the door”.

“Then I grabbed my gun,” he said.

A licensed gun owner, Walker said the moment was “the one time” he had to use it. He said if they had known it was the police they would have just opened the door to them.

Then the door flew off its hinges. Thinking it was a home invasion, Walker fired a single shot.

Then police opened fire. Walker said he had never heard so many gunshots at the same time.

“I’ve never been to war. But I assume that’s what war probably sounds like,” he said.

He had been holding Taylor’s hand during the gunfire when he heard her scream.

“I pulled her down to the ground. But, you know, she was scared so she just didn’t get down,” he said.

When shots stopped, Walker said Taylor was alive and bleeding. He called his mother as he held her.

“I told her that somebody just kicked in the door and shot Breonna. And she’s freaking out at this point. But she told me to call 911. So I did,” Walker said.

The gut-wrenching 911 call has since been made public. On the 911 call an operator asks Walker if his girlfriend is conscious and Walker says: “No she is not. Bre, oh my God.”

He told King if he knew it was the police who broke in, he would not have called the police for help.

“That doesn’t even make sense,” he said.

Walker said he hung up on 911 and called Taylor’s mother. When he realized the police were at the door, he thought they had responded to his call and had come to help.

Walker went to them, only to face guns drawn and threats of “dogs and whatever else”.

Walker said an officer asked him if he was hit with any bullets. When he said no, the officer replied: “That’s unfortunate.”

Body-camera footage from that night shows Walker outside with police.

He said they dragged him down the street barefoot to the squad car “on gravel, rocks and everything”. Walker said he still has the injuries on his feet.

A short time later a plainclothes officer told Walker there had been a “miscommunication.

Police charged him with attempted murder of a police officer, but never told him directly that Taylor was killed. Those charges against Walker have since been dropped.

“I was in the cell and it was, like, on the news … And they said one, you know, female dead,” he said.

Walker told King he believes that if he had been killed alongside Taylor that night, the public would “definitely not” be hearing her story or know the name Breonna Taylor.

Walker said “sure” when King asked him if he had thought he and Taylor would get married, and said they had discussed having a baby.

“She would have done anything for anybody. A lot of people, they need her bad right now, including me,” he said.