Kenneth Walker III fired at a group of casually dressed men who broke into his girlfriend’s apartment after midnight, not knowing they were plainclothes officers conducting a search warrant at the wrong building.
Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Louisville, Kentucky, claiming he “lives in constant fear” since shooting one of the police officers executing a no-knock search warrant that left Taylor dead.
CNN reports that Walker’s lawsuit requests $10.5 million damages alongside legal relief.
In the complaint, Walker alleges that he was maliciously prosecuted for firing a single bullet at “assailants” who “violently broke down the door” after midnight on March 13th.
However, the assailants were not ordinary criminals but members of the Louisville Police Department conducting a late-night, no-knock search of the property. Police, notes CNN, had received information that there might be drugs, weapons, or other contraband inside Walker’s apartment.
But law enforcement had expected Taylor to be home alone the night of the raid—and they did not double-check their information.
The raid, then, was as much of a surprise to Taylor as it did to walker—neither of whom had any reason to suspect they might have to face police officers in the middle of the night.
After Walker fired at what he thought were home invaders, officers began shooting back.
Taylor, says CNN, was killed in the ensuing “hail of bullets”—Walker’s legal team estimates the officers expended at least 35 rounds responding to the single shot.
Walker was immediately arrested and charged with attempted murder. While that charge has since conditionally dropped, the case’s outcome is dependent on what Kentucky Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine has termed “additional investigation” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Regardless, Walker has maintained what he and his legal counsel say are the incident’s indisputable facts: that Walker, a legal and licensed firearms owner, made a rational decision to discharge a firearm in defense of his girlfriend’s home.
“I was raised by a good family,” Walker said in a statement. “I am a legal gun owner and I would never knowingly shoot a police officer.”
CNN notes that that Louisville Metropolitan Police were not investigating Walker or Taylor. Instead, they were searching for contraband belonging to Adrian Walker and Jamarcus Glover, the latter of whom had previously had a relationship with Breonna.
Both men were suspected of selling narcotics from a “trap house” more than 10 miles away from Taylor’s residence. The only reason Walker’s home was included on warrants is because police “suspected” that Glover may have used her house to receive packages of drugs.
No drugs, and no contraband, were found on-site.
Steven Romines, one of Walker’s attorneys, said his client should have been shielded from prosecution under Kentucky’s “stand your ground” statutes.
“Kenny was clearly acting in self-defense, that he had every right to do, and they knew that, yet they charged him anyway because if he’s convicted it justifies their actions,” Romines said.
“The bottom line is this,” Romines said. “On that night, Kenny Walker was 27 years old […] Kenny had never been in trouble in his life. And the police want you to believe that at almost 1 o’clock in the morning, he says, ‘My first foray into the criminal justice world, I’m gonna try to shoot a cop.’ It’s ridiculous position.”
Walker, similarly, said that Louisville only levied charges against him to cover up Breonna’s death.
“The charges against me were meant to silence me and cover up Breonna’s murder,” Walker said.
CNN notes that the lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, names as defendants the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Louisville-Jefferson County metropolitan government, and members of the police department.
Interestingly, Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine’s office was not listed as a defendant. A representative for the department said that Walker’s lawsuit is intended to protect the man from any further criminal charges that might arise from the shooting incident.
“What he [Walker] is trying to do now with this lawsuit is use it to foreclose the possibility of being charged again,” spokesman Jeffrey Cooke said in a statement.
To further “foreclose” that possibility, Romines is also hoping to demonstrate that the officer who was shot was hit by friendly fire—not the single round dispensed from Walker’s handgun.
“We think it much more likely that one of the 35 to 45 shots fired by LMPD is what struck Officer Mattingly, especially based on the fact that it was not reported that he was shot until a minute and a half after the raid began,” Romines said.
CBS News adds that none of the officers involved in Taylor’s death have been criminally charged; Officer Brett Hankinson, however, was fired for shooting at least 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment without verifying that he was firing at an “immediate thread.”