Kenneth Walker says he has not had a restful night since March 13, the day the woman he planned to marry, Breonna Taylor, was killed during a police raid at her home in Louisville, Kentucky.
Walker and Taylor had planned to purchase a home together and have a baby. They had already agreed on a name: Kenbre, a union of the first three letters of each of their names. Walker had purchased a pair of baby Air Jordan sneakers that are white and red.
Those plans are now destroyed.
“Imagine how someone has to feel in a situation like this? Like, why me? They were both there,” Frederick Moore III, one of the attorneys representing Walker in a civil lawsuit filed this month, said in an interview last week. “They were both shot at 30 times.”
Walker said he asks himself daily why he is alive and Taylor is not. Steve Romines, another of Walker’s attorneys, said his client lives in constant fear.
“When you are shot at and when you see a loved one basically executed in front of you, you never recover from that,” Romines said. “It is something that haunts him every single night.”
“And not only that,” he added. “All that goes down and then he’s arrested. He didn’t get to go to her funeral.”
Walker has filed the civil lawsuit against the city of Louisville, its police department and others.
The moment that changed their lives forever
Walker was home with Taylor in March when Louisville police raided her apartment to search for drugs or cash from drug trafficking in connection with an investigation involving her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer.He had listed her apartment as his address and used it to receive packages, authorities said. 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 was never the target of an inquiry.
The police have said officers fired inside Taylor’s home only after they were fired upon by Walker.
Walker, who had a license to carry, said police did not identify themselves in the early morning hours, which police have denied. Walker fired his gun once, striking Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in a thigh, according to police. Walker called 911 after shots were fired and told a dispatcher that “somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”
When questioned by police after the botched raid, he said he acted in self-defense.
“It’s the middle of the night,” he said in audio released May 28 by Thomas Wine, the Jefferson County prosecutor, and Mayor Greg Fischer. “Somebody is beating on the door and not saying who they are, like, what are you going to do if you’re home with your family and somebody is beating on your door and you don’t know who it is after you’ve asked who it is?”
He was subsequently charged with attempted murder of a police officer and assault. The charges were dismissed in May after the case drew national attention.
“We know it could have happened because it happens every day all over the country,” Romines said. “There’s all kinds of people falsely charged by the police who don’t have the resources to properly defend it. And they get put in a position where about all they can do is just take some sort of plea to something they didn’t do just to get out of jail.”
Walker had been held on a $250,000 full cash bond before he was released in March to home incarceration.
Romines said authorities tried to keep Walker in jail on a high bond to have leverage over him. Walker believes it was also an attempt to justify Taylor’s killing, which has become a rallying cry for police reform.
“The charges brought against me were meant to silence me and cover up Breonna’s murder,” Walker, 28, said at a news conference Sept. 1. “For her and those that I love, I can no longer remain silent.”
His attorneys have expressed doubt as to whether the bullet from his gun even struck Mattingly as police have alleged.
“We absolutely do not concede that fact,” Romines said at the news conference. “It was obviously possible, but until we see the ballistics report, and it reflects that, we think it is much more likely that one of the 35 to 45 shots fired by LMPD is what struck Officer Mattingly.”
Detective Brett Hankison, who shot 10 rounds blindly into the apartment, was fired in June. Mattingly; Officer Myles Cosgrove, who also fired his weapon at the scene; and the detective who requested the warrant have been placed on administrative leave.
A spokesman for the police department, Sgt. Lamont Washington, said Thursday it does not comment on pending litigation.
Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for the Louisville mayor, said she cannot comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.
“But the mayor has said repeatedly that Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy, and justice, peace and healing are what is needed for her, for her loved ones and for our community,” she said Thursday.
Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general, is now leading the investigation. The FBI is also investigating the shooting.
Walker is suing for assault, battery, false arrest, malicious imprisonment and negligence. He is seeking unspecified monetary damages for the lifelong trauma he said he has sustained.
“To really achieve justice, you need magic,” Romines said. “And that would be to bring Breonna Taylor back and to undo Kenny Walker getting charged. That can’t happen. What we do need to happen is every available remedy in the justice system — both the criminal justice system and the civil justice system — needs to be brought to bear against the officers in this case and on behalf of both Kenny Walker and Breonna Taylor’s family.”
Walker’s lawyers want him to be immune from further prosecution.
Jeffrey Cooke, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, said Thursday, “The facts as we know them now haven’t provided a basis to bring additional charges against him.”
‘He’s had his heart ripped out of his chest’
Walker and Taylor, 26, an African American emergency medical technician who had hoped to become a nurse, met on Twitter and had been friends for several years before they started dating.
Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, said she was supportive of the two getting married and that she wanted them to hold off on having a baby “for a bit.”
Shortly before Taylor was killed, Walker was offered a job with the United States Postal Service, and they had planned to spend the rest of their lives together.
“He has always told me he was going to marry her,” Palmer said in a recent interview. “They reminded you of two little old people yelling at each other trying to tell each other what to do — mostly her trying to tell him what to do — but you couldn’t break them apart.”
It was hard not to imagine one without the other, Palmer said.
Walker has the same name as his father and paternal grandfather and is known to most as Kenny or Lil’ Kenny. His father is a retired Army veteran and his mother has worked for many years in the Jefferson County public school system.
Palmer described Walker as “a good kid with a big heart” who is “funny, determined and hard working.” Now, he is broken and saddened over the loss of the love of his life.
“He’s had his heart ripped out of his chest and most days thinks he can’t go on,” Palmer said. “I hate that for him, for all of us.”
She said Walker would have died for Taylor.
Walker has a close relationship with Palmer and Taylor’s younger sister, Juniyah, who lived with Taylor. She was away on a trip on March 13.
Walker, a middle child, has leaned on his two sisters and parents and on Taylor’s family since her death.
Having such a close relationship with Walker has proven bittersweet, Palmer said. It has not made it any easier to cope with the loss of her daughter.
“He is a constant reminder of her,” Palmer said. “But at least a good one.”