By Andrew Wolfson, Yahoo news
An internal report by the Louisville Metro Police Department after officers fatally shot Breonna Taylor on March 13 sheds more light on why they forcibly entered her apartment the night she was killed.
It provides no explanations or evidence aimed at justifying the shooting that has sparked three months of protests in Louisville, Kentucky, and national outrage. Critics accused police of smashing into the home of an unarmed Black woman for no legitimate reason and killing her.
The 39-page report and corroborating evidence show that Taylor had more extensive ties than previously made public with a person suspected of drug trafficking who was at the center of a larger narcotics investigation in Louisville. It is not known whether details in the report were presented to the judge who signed the controversial “no-knock” warrant for Taylor’s apartment.
The report, supported by jail phone recordings and other documents obtained by The Courier Journal of the USA TODAY Network, details multiple links between Taylor and Jamarcus Glover, a main target in a drug probe that prompted police to request the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment.
Plainclothes officers battered in her door, and she was killed in an exchange of gunfire between police and her boyfriend. None of the drugs or illicit cash police were searching for was found.
‘We are here to fight for justice’: 64 protesters arrested in Louisville amid demonstration over death of Breonna Taylor
“Breonna Taylor did not deserve to die no matter what her role in all this,” said a Jefferson County law enforcement official who asked not to be identified because Kentucky’s attorney general is still deciding whether the officers who shot Taylor should be prosecuted.
Glover was arrested the same night as Taylor’s shooting. He was picked up at an alleged drug house 10 miles to the north in Louisville’s West End. He was released on bail but is a fugitive after failing to post a new bail set at $50,000 when he was charged again last month.
In an email to The Courier Journal, Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s estate, which filed a wrongful death suit April 27 against the city, said that “while this looks like a smear campaign, I also appreciate the need for everything to get out to the public about this case. Good and bad.”
He said the police department went to “great lengths AFTER Breonna died and this case received national scrutiny to dig up all of her past.”
In a statement issued early Tuesday morning, Mayor Greg Fischer condemned the release of the report.
“Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy. Period. Justice, peace and healing are what is needed for her, for her family and for our community,” Fischer said.
70 days of protests: Breonna Taylor’s death has created a much larger movement in Louisville
“It is deeply reckless for this information, which presents only a small fraction of the entire investigation, to be shared with the media while the criminal process remains ongoing,” he said. “It would be unjust to draw conclusions about this case before the investigation is complete and the full truth comes out. And efforts to sway opinion and impact the investigation by releasing select information are wrong and divisive, at a time when our city needs unity more than ever before.”
Recorded jail calls mention Taylor
The Courier Journal reported May 12 that a sworn affidavit from LMPD Detective Joshua Jaynes said Glover was seen walking into Taylor’s apartment one January afternoon and left with a “suspected USPS package in his right hand,” then drove to a “known drug house” on Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
Jaynes said he verified through a U.S. postal inspector that Glover had received packages at Taylor’s address, though that was contradicted by Postal Inspector Tony Gooden.
The police report reviewed by The Courier Journal goes beyond the information in the affidavit, detailing evidence into police surveillance of Taylor and Glover, as well as recorded phone conversations from a jail involving Glover and Taylor.
The report was compiled by the LMPD’s new Place-Based Investigations unit, which targets violent crime at specific locations. The Courier Journal also reviewed transcripts of jailhouse calls Glover and other defendants made from Metro Corrections.
The report is undated, and an LMPD spokesperson did not respond to requests for information about it, including whether it was provided to the mayor, police chief or other city or commonwealth officials.
It was written by an LMPD detective whose name was redacted from a copy of the report The Courier Journal reviewed.
The evidence it details includes the results of a tracking device placed on Glover’s Dodge Charger that shows it was driven to Taylor’s apartment six times in January.
The report includes photographs of Glover entering and exiting Taylor’s building. In the application for the search warrant of Taylor’s apartment, police said they suspected drugs and money were held at the residence.
Glover called from jail about 12 hours after he was arrested and after Taylor was shot and killed.
In the recorded call March 13, Glover, 30, told a girlfriend that Taylor was holding $8,000 for him and that she had been “handling all my money.” No money was found at her residence during the police search.
Aguiar said Glover and Taylor had dated until about two years earlier and maintained a “passive” friendship.
The recordings and other evidence reviewed by The Courier Journal show Taylor and Glover maintained closer ties.
On Jan. 3, after Glover was arrested on trafficking and weapons charges, he called Taylor from the jail and asked her to contact one of his co-defendants to get bail money.
Taylor responded that the associate was “already at the trap” – slang for a house used for drug trafficking.
Glover told her to be on standby to pick him up if he made bail. “I’m going to get me some rest in your bed,” he said, according to the recording.
“Love you,” he said at the end of the call.
“Love you, too,” she replied.
In his email to The Courier Journal, Aguiar apologized to “the public and to Breonna’s family” for mischaracterizing the relationship, saying it was based on an erroneous conclusion he drew without the benefit of the jail recording.
Ryan Nichols, president of River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614, told The Courier Journal that he wishes more information about Taylor’s connection with Glover had been released earlier because it would have countered erroneous rumors that police went to the wrong address and had no reason to search Taylor’s home.
Keturah Herron, policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, blasted LMPD for creating the report, calling it a case of victim-blaming.
“We have seen this, historically, not just in Breonna’s case but in cases across the nation,” Herron told The Courier Journal. “They did it with Freddie Gray. They did it with Trayvon Martin. And then just recently, they did it with Jacob Blake (the victim of a police shooting this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin).
“What’s important here is that regardless of what Breonna was involved in from the day that she was born until March 13, it does not give reason for her to be murdered the way she was murdered,” she said. “For LMPD now, or even sometimes the media … to basically try to paint the picture that it’s OK for police to use those tactics, it’s absurd. It’s disrespectful. It’s distasteful.”
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, interim LMPD Chief Robert Schroeder chastised the release of the report.
“We want to protect the integrity of all of our investigations,” Schroeder said. “This kind of leak and this kind of reporting is simply not helpful to the process. It seems irrelevant to the goal of getting justice, peace and healing for our community.”
Glover claims Taylor handled his money
On Dec. 30, 2019, days before her recorded jail conversation with Glover, Taylor posted a $2,500 bond for another man charged in the same case, Darreal Forest, 34.
His attorney, Casey McCall, did not immediately respond to a question about how his client knew Taylor.
Glover, Forest and three other men were charged with trafficking and weapons offenses after police received a tip from a confidential informant that they were hiding drugs and firearms in abandoned homes adjacent to the “trap house” they allegedly operated at 2424 Elliott Ave.
Police seized five handguns and three rifles, according to evidence filed in the case.
The jail recordings show that on March 13, Glover, trying to round up cash to make bail on a new set of trafficking charges, called a girlfriend and told him Taylor had his money.
“She had the eight grand I gave her the other day, and she picked up another six,” Glover said.
“Did she tell you where it was?” the caller asked him.
“She didn’t have the chance to tell me nothing,” he replied. “She dead.”
When the caller asked Glover why he left the money with Taylor, he said, “Don’t take it wrong, but Bre been handling all my money. She has been handling (expletive) for me and … it ain’t just me.”
Nothing in the recordings or other evidence obtained by The Courier Journal substantiates Glover’s claim that Taylor was handling money for him.
Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, one of the three officers who fired shots into Taylor’s apartment, told investigators from the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates potential crimes by government employees, that police suspected Taylor may have held drugs and money for Glover.
In a different recorded phone call from the jail March 13, Demarius Bowman, who was arrested with Glover, told his sister that another woman, Alicia “Kesha” Jones, 24, had been given the group’s money.
“We put all the money on Kesha,” said Bowman, 24. “We dumped everything on her.”
Jones was holding $3,413 in cash when she was arrested earlier after the search at 2424 Elliott Ave., according to police records.
Jones, Glover and Bowman, along with three other defendants – Rayshawn Lee, 33; Anthony Taylor, 31; and Adrian Walker, 28 – are charged with complicity in trafficking in a controlled substance and running an organized crime syndicate.
They all pleaded not guilty.
Police surveil Glover and Taylor
Court records show that Taylor posted bond twice for Glover in 2017, as mentioned in the police report, though it is not unusual for a girlfriend, spouse, friend or parent to post bond for a loved one.
The police report says Glover called Taylor’s phone from jail 27 times from January 2016 to January 2020, including the call Jan. 3 in which he asked her to contact Adrian Walker to round up bail money for him.
The report says that on Feb. 13 – a month before Taylor’s death – detectives watched through a pole camera mounted outside the suspected drug house on Elliot Avenue as Taylor and Glover drove up to the house in her black Dodge Charger and he got out and went inside.
He came out after a few minutes and they drove off, the report says.
Police disclosed in their application to search Taylor’s apartment that another vehicle registered to Taylor, a white 2016 Chevrolet Impala, was seen parked in front of 2424 Elliott Ave. several times.
The report says Glover called Walker at the jail the same day Taylor was killed and said he didn’t understand why police searched her apartment because “nothing ties me to Bre house at all except those bonds” – an apparent reference to the bail bonds she posted for him in 2017.
Walker responded that there were other ties, including photos they knew had been taken of her car from the police camera.
“Yeah, she was there the top of the week before I went to court,” Glover said.
He said he was upset by Taylor’s death, according to the recording.
“I’m tore,” he said. “I’m tore.
“I keep losing those close to me. … This s–t kills my soul. I lose people that really be close to me,” he told Walker. “That hurt, boy.”
He blamed Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker – no relation to Adrian Walker – for Taylor’s death: “At the end of the day, it was not my fault. … At the end of the day, if I would have been at that house, Bre would be alive, bruh. … I don’t shoot at no police.”
Taylor’s boyfriend again says he didn’t know he was firing at police
Taylor’s death has been condemned by celebrities, including LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé Knowles. Former first lady Michelle Obama and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris mentioned her when they addressed the Democratic National Convention last week.
Protesters have insisted Taylor was murdered and demanded that the officers be fired, charged and convicted.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who spoke at Tuesday’s Republican National Convention, is reviewing the shooting. He said Sunday night no findings will be released this week.
Neither Mattingly nor Detective Myles Cosgrove or former Detective Brett Hankison have been charged, though Schroeder fired Hankison in June for firing 10 rounds “blindly” into Taylor’s apartment and the one next door.
Mattingly told investigators police knocked and announced they were officers and nobody responded, so they used a battering ram to force open the door.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot from inside the apartment, and it hit Mattingly in the thigh. Walker said he thought intruders were breaking in.
Mattingly and Cosgrove returned fire through the doorway, while Hankison fired from outside the apartment.
Taylor died in her hallway after she was struck five times by the officers’ bullets, according to her death certificate.
In a recorded call from the jail the same day Taylor was killed, Walker, who was charged with the attempted murder of a police officer, told a friend the same story he told police – that neither he nor Taylor knew the intruders were officers.
“They was beating on the door,” and Taylor “was like, who is it, and they ain’t saying nothing,” he said.
Charges against him were dismissed, subject to further investigation.
Aguiar, the Taylor family’s attorney, said in his email that Breonna’s name “should not be tarnished.”
“She overcame a difficult childhood, being raised without a father in her life and becoming the first in her immediate family to graduate high school,” he wrote. “Breonna had no drugs or cash in her apartment at the time she was killed. Breonna was living her best life.”
Contributing: Tessa Duvall
Reach Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; Twitter: @adwolfson.
Mayor Greg Fischer’s statement
“Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy. Period. Justice, peace and healing are what is needed for her, for her family and for our community. Today a news story was released that includes information related to the Breonna Taylor case, despite the fact that the Attorney General and FBI have insisted that the investigation remain confidential for the integrity of the judicial process as a whole. In addition, attorneys for Breonna’s family, the county attorney, and the civil attorneys for the officers are under a protective order that does not permit them to disclose evidence in this case. It is deeply reckless for this information, which presents only a small fraction of the entire investigation, to be shared with the media while the criminal process remains ongoing. It would be unjust to draw conclusions about this case before the investigation is complete and the full truth comes out. And, efforts to sway opinion and impact the investigation by releasing select information are wrong and divisive, at a time when our city needs unity more than ever before.”