On March 13, 2020, in the middle of the night, three Louisville, Kentucky plainclothes policemen stormed into the apartment of Breonna Shaquelle Taylor (1993–2020) and shot her to death, firing eight bullets into the emergency room technician, who had been asleep in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, before the police arrived. Walker, who had a license to carry a gun, shot one of the police officers in the leg in self-defense because he thought someone was breaking into the home. Police said they identified themselves. Taylor said they did not. His 911 call supported his statement: "...somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend." Controversy ensued concerning the police version of the night's events and that of the boyfriend, and the FBI took over the investigation of the case. As of June 5, 2020, Breonna's 27th birthday, no charges had been filed against the officers—Jon Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison.
The week after Breonna's birthday, the Louisville Metro Police Department released a four-page report, which critics say is virtually blank and lacks transparency and which Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said was "unacceptable." On June 19, 2020, more than three months after Breonna's death, Mayor Fischer announced that the LMPD was moving to fire Hankison on grounds of violating departmental policies on adherence to rules and regulations and use of deadly force. On the same day, the FBI Louisville Field Office, in coordination with the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., executed a search warrant at Breonna's apartment as part of their independent investigation. On June 23, 2020, Hankison received a letter of termination from the police department in which Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said, "I find your conduct a shock to the conscience."
Two months after the shooting, Breonna's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit that includes charges of battery, excessive force, and gross negligence.
Bree, as her friends and family referred to her, had previously worked as an emergency medical technician and had dreams of becoming a nurse.