(CNN) — Outcry over the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor reached a boiling point overnight Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, when gunfire erupted during protests and audio was released of Taylor’s boyfriend’s call to 911 the day of her death.
Seven people were shot downtown, the mayor said in a video message on Twitter. Property damage also was reported after peaceful demonstrations took a turn, Louisville Metro Police Department officials said during a news conference.
At least one shooting victim was in critical condition, according to Sgt. Lamont Washington, a Louisville Metro Police spokesman, who declined to say how many protesters had been arrested.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear read a statement from Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, on CNN Friday, saying the last thing her daughter would want is more violence.
“Breonna devoted her own life to saving other lives, to helping others, to making people smile and to bringing people together,” the statement said.
“Changes are being made, but it is not enough. We will not stop until there is truth, justice and accountability. Her legacy will not be forgotten… Please keep saying her name. Please keep demanding justice and accountability, but let’s do it the right way, without hurting each other.”
Protesters this week have demanded justice for Taylor, an EMT who was shot at least eight times in March when three officers entered her Kentucky apartment by force to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation. The department said the officers announced themselves and returned gunfire from her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer and first-degree assault, but prosecutors filed a motion last week to drop the charges. In a wrongful death lawsuit, Taylor’s mother said the officers didn’t knock at all.
Beshear called Louisville “a special place” also marred by “a hundred years of slavery, of Jim Crow.” Thursday night’s protest started out “very peaceful” and “compliant” before “some other folks” hours into the demonstration appeared to instigate the violence.
Asked about the hanging of an effigy of him outside the state Capitol over the weekend, Beshear said: “I’m not going to be afraid. I’m not going to let these folks bully me or bully the state of Kentucky.”
In a tweet later Friday, Beshear wrote, “My heart aches for Louisville & our country. Breonna Taylor’s family & the public deserve the truth. We should honor Breonna’s legacy as an EMT & the pursuit of the truth should not be marred by violence.”
But the protests turned violent overnight as fury in Minneapolis over the death this week of an unarmed black man in police custody also took a dangerous turn, with marchers setting a police precinct on fire. Large crowds gathered in both places, even as experts warned people to continue to avoid big gatherings to stall the spread of the coronavirus.
“Understandably, emotions are high,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said on Facebook. “As Breonna’s mother says, let’s be peaceful as we work toward truth and justice,”
On Thursday, one of Walker’s attorneys released audio of the 911 call placed by Walker after Taylor was shot.
In the call, Walker tells the 911 operator, “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend,” and that Taylor was unresponsive on the ground.
“This call is one of the hardest things I’ve ever listened to,” attorney Sam Aguiar said in a statement Thursday. “Kenneth Walker is a great man. He stayed by Breonna’s side. He lost the love of his life and then went to jail after doing everything right. He had no idea who had broken into the home and fired shots. My heart is bleeding for him and his family.”
The FBI has opened an investigation into the incident, and the Louisville Metro Police Department said it would require sworn officers to wear body cameras.
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