It’s been more than four months since the death of Breonna Taylor, the Black emergency medical technician who was killed by police during a drug raid as she slept in her Louisville home. None of the three officers involved have been charged, but NBA and WNBA players are calling attention to the case as both league’s prepare to resume play.
Some of basketball’s biggest names have shared messages of support on social media or have brought up Taylor’s name in news conferences. Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade, a commentator on “NBA on TNT” show, wore a black T-shirt on Tuesday night that read: “Breonna Taylor’s killer are still free.” It also listed a phone number to the office of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is investigating the case.
“This number is to Kentucky’s attorney general Daniel Cameron, so you guys can call this number, press 1, and leave a message,” Wade said.
One of the officers, Sargeant Brett Hankison, was fired from the Louisville police department. The two others, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly, were placed on administrative leave. Activists believe the investigation is not moving fast enough.
LeBron James and Wade recently shared the same image on Instagram, saying, “Dear Breonna, I’m sorry this is taking so long.”
As NBA players prepare for the resumed season on July 30, some players, including Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Lakers guard Alex Caruso have refused to answer questions, and instead, demanded justice for Taylor.
C.J. McCollum, a star for the Portland Trail Blazers, was on a Zoom call with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, that included more than 30 players over the weekend.
“I want to go on the record and say that Daniel Cameron is in position to arrest the cops who are responsible for killing Breonna Taylor and still has not done that,” McCollum said. “He’s the one who could potentially do that. So, we want to continue to uplift people like Breonna Taylor who are victims and haven’t received the proper justice they are due.”
The NBA will allow its players to have pre-approved social justice messages on the back of their jerseys, while the WNBA will allow its players to have Taylor’s name and other victims who were killed in alleged acts of police brutality or racial violence. Las Vegas Aces’ Angel McCoughtry, who initially proposed the idea, has called for action in Taylor’s case.
“It really has affected everyone a lot because of the fact that there’s been no punishment,” McCoughtry told The Athletic this month. The way the story went, you don’t just shoot up somebody’s house…That’s not right and justice needs to be served.”
Taylor was killed on March 13 when police entered with a search warrant in a drug investigation and opened fire. Police did not find any narcotics. Officials said the officers announced themselves before entering and only fired in response to shots from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. But Taylor’s family claims that the officers did not announce themselves and that Walker believed they were trying to break in. The family has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing the officers of excessive force and gross negligence.