“It’s a step in the right direction”: Lexington activist reacts to Breonna Taylor’s settlement

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – One organizer in Lexington says the settlement made with Breonna Taylor’s family Tuesday marks a bitter sweet moment.

Taylor’s attorneys emphasized her death has prompted police reform in cities far outside Louisville.

Even close by, Lexington police have made changes, including adding an extra level of supervision to its warrant policy.

Protesters in Lexington have been asking for more reform for months, while also demanding justice for Taylor.

“No amount of money can replace Breonna Taylor,” says Sarah Williams, Lexington Police Accountability activist and protest organizer.

She says the settlement is a step in the right direction, but more action is needed.

“It’s like joy, but it’s also still sadness knowing we still don’t have justice within the criminal justice system.”

Williams says she, like many others, is waiting on the ruling on whether the officers involved in Taylor’s death will be criminally charged.

However, Williams says some of the police reform the settlement creates is promising. For example, one measure incentivizes officers to live in the city.

“When you come into a city that’s a different demographic from what you’re use to encountering, then from jump, the way in which you respond could be problematic,” says Williams.

She also likes that a new program will be created to use social workers on some police runs.

“We need somebody who can respond to a mental health crisis,” says Williams. “We need somebody who can respond with love and kindness and no judgment and definitely no violence.”

Williams says she’s also glad to hear Louisville will continue investigating an officer even if they leave before the investigation is finished.

She says it reminds her of former Lexington Police Chaplain Donovan Stewart, who announced his retirement in July.

He retired with a full pension before the resolution of a federal lawsuit, accusing him of excessive use of force on an autistic teen at Fayette Mall in 2019.

Lexington Police cited that ongoing lawsuit as a reason why it couldn’t begin an internal investigation.

“So that leaves that situation open-ended because there are still many, many, many community members who feel like Donovan Stewart should be held accountable for his actions,” says Williams.

She says she hopes some of these measures will be passed in Lexington soon, but for now, she hopes it sends a message.

“I think that sets a precedent going forward,” says Williams. “We demand some changes to the system that’s inflicting harm on our community.”

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