The families of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death in her bedroom by police in Louisville, Ky., and Robert Fuller, who was found hanged in Palmdale, Calif., say they have been thwarted by authorities as they seek the truth about the circumstances of their deaths.
Still they are pressing for answers.
Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot in her bed sometime after midnight on March 13 when three police officers serving a “no-knock” warrant broke down her door. The police opened fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them, believing they were trying to rob the apartment.
The officers were looking for a drug suspect who lived 10 miles away and was already in police custody, according to the Courier-Journal. Police said the suspect had used the address where Taylor lived with Walker to receive packages in the mail. No drugs were found in the apartment, and neither Taylor nor Walker has an arrest record.
But Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said officers gave her a misleading account on the night of the shooting. In an interview last week with IHeartRadio, Palmer said that on the night of the incident she rushed to the apartment after receiving a call from Walker and was told by police, falsely, that Taylor was at the hospital. After waiting for more than 6 hours and traveling back and forth to the hospital, Palmer was finally told by police that Taylor was in the apartment, but she was not allowed inside. At that moment, Palmer told radio hosts Angie Martinez and Angela Yee of Power 105.1, that she realized her daughter was dead, although the police never told her so.
“It was probably about 11 a.m. when he comes back over and tells us it will be a little bit longer and they will be wrapping up and we will be able to get in the house,” Palmer said. “And I said why won’t you tell me where Breonna is? I need to know. And he said, ‘Well she’s still inside. … When he said she was still in the apartment, I knew what that had meant at that time.”
Palmer said officers asked her if she knew of anyone who would want to hurt Taylor or Walker — although the police knew that Taylor was shot by the police themselves. Later, police asked if Walker and Taylor had problems in their relationship, apparently fishing for a way to pin the blame on Walker.
Palmer now wants justice through the arrest of the officers who killed her daughter.
If anybody else would have done it, they’d be arrested,” she said. “They obtained a warrant under a lie. They told several stories, so they should be arrested. They lied. There was no reason for them to be there. The person you claimed you wanted was in custody, so to go in there at 1 in the morning and scare her, kill her.”
The incident is still being investigated and Taylor’s family is suing Louisville Metro Police Department officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankinson and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, alleging wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence. According to the suit, the police fired more than 20 rounds in the apartment. Taylor was hit eight times and pronounced dead at the scene.
The police department did not return Yahoo News’ request for comment.
Fuller, a 24-year-old Black man, was found hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall in California on June 10. A passerby discovered Fuller’s body just before 4 a.m., and, according to city officials, there were no working security cameras in the area. Law enforcement ruled Fuller’s death a suicide after a limited investigation.
Community members blasted city officials at a news briefing last Friday for quickly labeling Fuller’s death a suicide. They questioned why Fuller’s death had not been considered a homicide and referenced incidents of racism and pro-Confederate sentiment in the area.
“We have a history with nooses. We don’t like ropes around our necks,” said one man, who raised the possibility that Fuller was lynched as “a message for the [Black Lives Matter] protest we had in Palmdale and Lancaster.”
On Monday, Los Angeles County officials walked back the initial ruling of suicide. Coroner Jonathan Lucas said that the initial finding for Fuller was based on the lack of evidence of foul play, but now he believes "that we should look into it a little more deeply and carefully, just considering all the circumstances at play."
The Palmdale Sheriff's Station did not return Yahoo News’ request for comment.
“My cousin is not suicidal,” a relative of Fuller told Fox 11. “He doesn't have [any] mental issues or anything like that. He did not kill himself and we are not going to stop until we get answers.”
During a rally for Fuller on Saturday, his sister Diamond Alexander said her brother “was not suicidal” and the initial ruling “did not make sense” based on what she knew about her brother.
“Everything that they've been telling us has not been right,” Alexander said. “We’ve been hearing one thing. Then we hear another. And we just want to know the truth.”
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