Prosecutors on Friday said they were dropping charges against the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by three white police officers in Louisville, Ky., in March.
The announcement came one day after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had opened an investigation into the shooting, which has drawn nationwide attention.
“I believe that additional investigation is necessary,” Thomas B. Wine, the county prosecutor in Louisville, said at a news conference on Friday. “I believe that the independent investigation by the attorney general’s office in Kentucky, the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney’s office must be completed before we go forward with any prosecution of Kenneth Walker.”
The authorities had charged Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend, with attempted murder, saying he shot a Louisville police officer in the leg when officers forced their way into Ms. Taylor’s home during a narcotics investigation at around 1 a.m. on March 13.
Officers had knocked on the door several times and announced their presence before using a ram to break down the door, the police said. Officers were immediately met by gunfire, and fired back, the police said. Ms. Taylor, 26, was killed.
Mr. Walker, 27, has contended that he did not know that it was police officers who had been knocking at the door and feared for his life when he grabbed his gun and fired.
“We’re happy that the case is dismissed,” said Mr. Walker’s lawyer, Rob Eggert. “He always said that he didn’t know these were police officers, and they found no drugs in the apartment. None. He was scared for his life and her life.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that the police had been targeting two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house more than 10 miles from Ms. Taylor’s apartment. However, a judge had signed a warrant allowing officers to search Ms. Taylor’s home — and to enter without warning — in part because a detective said one of the men had used Ms. Taylor’s apartment to receive a package.
Mr. Wine’s decision to drop charges came one day after Mr. Eggert filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that prosecutors failed to present a full and fair picture to the grand jury. Specifically, Mr. Eggert contended that they neglected to present Mr. Walker’s claim that he was acting in self-defense.
Mr. Wine said he disagreed with Mr. Eggert’s contention that prosecutors acted unethically but he agreed that more information should have been presented to the grand jury that indicted Mr. Walker on March 19, including Mr. Walker’s statement to the police in the early morning hours after the shooting.
Mr. Wine said that it has been his practice in other cases to allow defendants to present evidence that they were acting in self-defense during a shooting.
“I’ve allowed that for police officers in shooting cases,” Mr. Wine said, “and it should be allowed for civilians.”
The prosecutors’ request to drop the charges must be approved by a judge. Mr. Wine said he would not rule out the possibility of filing charges again after the F.B.I. and other agencies had completed their reviews of the shooting.
Some legal observers said the decision to drop charges suggested prosecutors had found potentially serious problems in the police officers’ account of the fatal shooting.
“The decision not to pursue Walker’s prosecution at this time, despite a grand jury indictment, suggests that the officers’ credibility and version of events is in question,” said Cortney E. Lollar, a law professor at the University of Kentucky. “The fact that Wine seems to be waiting for independent investigators to review the case further indicates that the prosecutor’s office may have a lack of confidence” in the Louisville Metro Police Department’s version of what happened.
Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, filed a lawsuit in late April against three officers with the department, accusing them of wrongfully causing her daughter’s death.
On Friday, Mr. Crump called prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against Mr. Walker “a belated victory for justice and a powerful testament to the power of advocacy.”
“This is just another step to the L.M.P.D. taking full responsibility for its actions,” Mr. Crump said in a statement that he released with two other lawyers, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker.
On Thursday, Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville said that Chief Steve Conrad of the Louisville Metro Police Department would retire at the end of June.
Mr. Fischer said at a news conference that in response to Ms. Taylor’s shooting, “no knock” search warrants, like the one issued in this case, would require approval from the police chief or someone he designates before being sent to a judge for approval.
Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky called reports about Ms. Taylor’s death “troubling” and said the public deserved to know everything about the March raid.
He asked the state attorney general, the local prosecutor and the federal prosecutor assigned to the region to review the results of the Louisville police’s initial investigation “to ensure justice is done at a time when many are concerned that justice is not blind.”