Before police killed her, Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker III were discussing marriage and possible names for their future kids, and had even bought a pair of baby Air Jordans for their would-be child, the boyfriend said during a Wednesday interview.
To the world, Taylor has become a hashtag, a cause, but to Walker she was more. More than a girlfriend. More than a best friend. He knew she was “the one” because they’d been pals so long and both loved to joke and laugh, he said.
“Most important person, pretty much, to me on the Earth, and they took her,” he told “CBS This Morning.”
His parents loved her, too. “As a mom, you want the best mate for your children, and she just completed us. She just completed the family,” Velicia Walker told the show.
One of the officers involved in the botched drug raid faces charges — not for Taylor’s killing, but for allegedly firing his weapon blindly into the home, endangering neighbors. He has pleaded not guilty. State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said a grand jury declined to charge the other officers, but some jurors have taken issue with the prosecutor’s characterization of the deliberations, which Cameron defends.
Apartment likened to a war zone
Before plainclothes police burst into Taylor’s apartment in the middle of the night March 13, they knocked. Taylor and Walker were in bed watching the “Freedom Riders” documentary, “just chilling and being us,” when they heard the knocks and called out to see who was at the door, Walker said.
“I know a million percent sure that nobody identified themselves,” he said, adding — as he has to authorities — that if he knew police were at the door, he would’ve had zero reason to grab his Glock 9 mm.
Police initially charged Walker with attempting to murder a peace officer but dropped the charges. A prosecutor has declined to rule out charging him again.
Though one witness said he heard officers announce they were police, he has changed his story. Other witnesses back Walker’s assertion that officers did not identify themselves, but some neighbors have told CNN that they didn’t wake up until they heard gunshots.
Once police sent their battering ram through the door, Walker fired his gun — a warning shot, to ward off the then-unknown intruders — before the abode became a battle zone, a barrage of gunfire unlike anything he’d ever heard, he told CBS.
“I’ve never been to war, but I assume that’s what war probably sounds like,” he said.
Taylor screamed. He held her hand, trying to pull her down. There was nowhere to hide as 32 bullets entered the apartment. When the gunfire stopped, she was bleeding but alive. He held her close and dialed his mom to say someone had just broken down the door and shot Taylor, Walker said.
Velicia Walker heard only screaming and crying at first, she told CBS. He eventually told her what happened and explained he didn’t know what was going on. It was a call a mother never wants to receive at 1 a.m., she said.
The 911 call and learning of Taylor’s death
Kenneth Walker called 911 next and told them “someone” had kicked in his door and shot his girlfriend.
“If I knew who it was, I would’ve said the police or I wouldn’t have been calling the police on the police. Doesn’t even make sense,” Walker told CBS.
It wasn’t until he hung up on 911 and called Taylor’s mother that he realized police were outside, he said, but he thought they were responding to the 911 call. He didn’t realize they were responsible for the gunfire until he got outside and saw the guns trained on him and the police dogs barking. When an officer told him it was unfortunate he hadn’t been hit, he thought, “What’s he mean by that?”
As his mother rushed to the scene, Walker repeatedly told officers that he didn’t realize it was police at the door.
They cuffed him, he said, and dragged him down the cold, wet street, leaving abrasions on his soles. At the bottom of the hill, in a parking lot down the street from the apartment, Walker met another plainclothes officer who took a markedly different tone with him.
“He told me that this was a misunderstanding and we’re going to get to the bottom of it and asking if I need anything,” Walker told CBS.
At the precinct, he still didn’t know Taylor’s fate, he said. He remained barefoot. He found it odd that an officer removed his handcuffs, thinking: This doesn’t typically happen to someone accused of shooting at police.
When he was informed he was being charged with attempted murder, around 5 or 6 in the morning, he was still worried about Taylor. In his jail cell watching the news, he learned there was a woman dead at the scene, he said.
Because he was in jail during Taylor’s funeral, her mother brought him a small urn of her ashes, he said.
Once he was released, he watched the bodycam footage and saw officers with tactical vests and rifles enter the apartment, one of them declaring, “Let’s go ahead and move out, all right? She’s done.” Asked his thoughts, Walker said only, “Disrespectful.”
‘I can’t fix this’
Walker’s parents struggle with how to help their son. He doesn’t believe in therapists, but he’s been talking to one because “you’ve got to try everything to try to be OK,” he said.
“I can see things about him that he doesn’t even realize. … Where when they were little kids if he had a bump,” Velicia Walker told CBS, “I could kiss it or I could blow it, but I can’t fix this.”
Added Kenneth Walker Jr, “His whole life, I’ve always been there to help him or be there for him — and I couldn’t help him.”
Velicia Walker hates that her son remains a suspect, “still their scapegoat,” and is especially troubled that Walker is navigating such sadness and uncertainty for simply doing what he should have done, the mother said. She always taught him to stay out of the streets, and he listened.
“Here you are this one time. You’re at home, and you get in the worst trouble you’ve ever been in at home and you did nothing wrong but do what you were taught to do: Be a man, protect your family, tell the truth,” she told the morning show.
Kenneth Walker III isn’t terribly surprised charges continue to loom over his life, he said: “That’s usually how it goes when you’re Black and deal with the police.”
‘She took care of a lot of people’
While many observers have made this a Black v. White issue, he said race doesn’t matter here. This is about right and wrong, about police barging into a home looking for drugs and opening fire on two people with no criminal history, he said.
No drugs or money were found in the 26-year-old emergency room technician’s apartment, police have said.
If Walker hadn’t survived, he suspects, the world might not know about their story; perhaps only a few people would know Breonna Taylor’s name, he told CBS.
Seeing protesters chanting, “Say her name!” is the least that could happen, and he’s glad she’s getting the respect she deserves. Yet justice — real justice — would mean “Breonna Taylor sitting right next to me. That’s the only justice for me,” Walker said.
“I don’t want anybody to know about Kenny Walker as long as everybody knows Breonna Taylor,” he said. “She would’ve did anything for anybody. She took care of a lot people. There’s a lot of people that need her bad right now, including me.”
As for the baby Jordans, “To me, it means something that’s never going to happen,” Walker said.
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