Louisville police declare state of emergency as city braces for Breonna Taylor decision

Louisville’s police are operating under "state of emergency" rules as the city awaits a grand jury decision in the case of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician who died in a police raid at her apartment earlier this year.

Louisville Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder told officers the department the guidelines would be effective immediately, according to an internal memo obtained by NBC News.

“In anticipation of Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement in the Breonna Taylor case, I am declaring a state of emergency for the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD),” the memo said.

The declaration was issued with an additional order that put a moratorium on officers' vacation requests, canceling any time-off requests that have not already been approved. Officers will also be working 12-hour shifts as part of the department’s emergency-response plan, according to the memo.

It’s unclear when the grand jury began deliberations, if they have begun at all. Sources previously told NBC News that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had been preparing to present evidence as early as last week.

Cameron is expected to make a public announcement on his office’s findings along with a decision on whether to indict the three officers who fired into Taylor’s apartment during the March raid.

Taylor was in her home with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when Louisville officers raided the apartment after midnight on March 13. They were executing a warrant to search for drugs or cash from drug trafficking as part of an investigation involving her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer. Glover had been using Taylor’s address to receive packages, according to authorities.

No drugs or money were recovered during the raid, according to the search warrant inventory document obtained by NBC News. Taylor had no criminal record and previously had worked as an emergency medical technician.

Officers have said they were fired upon as they entered the home, but Taylor’s family has said Walker believed the home was being broken into and fired his legally owned gun to defend himself.

One officer, Sgt. Brett Hankison, who, according to his termination letter, shot 10 rounds blindly into Taylor's apartment was fired in June. The letter, posted to the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Twitter account, stated the officer displayed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

A lawyer representing Hankison called the dismissal a "cowardly political act."

Officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly have been placed on administrative leave, along with the detective who requested the warrant.

Image: Protests in Louisville following the death of Breonna Taylor (Bryan Woolston / Reuters file)
Image: Protests in Louisville following the death of Breonna Taylor (Bryan Woolston / Reuters file)

Taylor’s death galvanized many across the nation to protest racial injustice, particularly following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis in May. Her image has been shared across social media as thousands of people, including NBA star LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey, have called for the officers to be charged in her death. Actresses Uzo Aduba and Regina King honored Taylor during Sunday night’s Emmy Awards by wearing shirts with Taylor’s name or face as they accepted their awards.

Authorities in Louisville are seemingly preparing for renewed protests if officers are not charged in Taylor’s case. Some federal office buildings in downtown Louisville were closed to the public this week, with the first-floor windows of the Gene Snyder United States Courthouse boarded up Monday.

The Police Department said on its Twitter account that it was also preparing for the announcement by placing “No Parking” signs on downtown streets. Sgt. Lamont Washington, a department spokesman, also told NBC News that barriers will most likely be placed around downtown.

Aaron Jordan, founder of Black Complex Louisville, told NBC affiliate WAVE that the "subliminal" moves felt like an indication on what people can expect the grand jury decision to be.

“Right now, a lot of us are pissed off,” Jordan said. “A lot of us are angry. A lot of us are sad, and a lot of people just don’t know what to feel.”

The city of Louisville settled a wrongful death suit filed by Taylor’s family for $12 million last week, in an agreement that did not require the city to admit wrongdoing.

In late April, Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, had sued the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the raid. The lawsuit alleged that police used excessive force and that the search was grossly negligent. In an amended complaint filed in July, Taylor's family asserted that the raid was connected to a gentrification project.

Palmer said Tuesday during a news conference that the settlement was “only the beginning of getting full justice” for her daughter.

“We must not lose focus on what the real job is,” Palmer said. “It's time to move forward with the criminal charges, because she deserves that and much more.”