The police break into a house in the middle of the night. Protecting home and family, the owner grabs his gun and fires at the intruders. The police fire back in self-defense. People die. But no one is legally culpable.
That seemed to be the case in the police killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020.
But it turns out there’s more to the story.
What to Know About Breonna Taylor’s Death NYT (revised and abridged)
Shortly after midnight on March 13, 2020 Louisville police officers executing a search warrant used a battering ram to enter the apartment of Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician.
The police had been investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house that was far from Ms. Taylor’s home. A judge had signed a warrant allowing the police to search Ms. Taylor’s residence because the police said they believed that one of the men had used her apartment to receive packages. Ms. Taylor had been dating that man on and off for several years but had recently severed ties with him.
Ms. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had been in bed but got up when they heard a loud banging at the door. Mr. Walker said he and Ms. Taylor both called out, asking who was at the door. Mr. Walker later told the police he feared it was Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend trying to break in.
After the police broke the door off its hinges, Mr. Walker fired his gun once, striking Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in a thigh. The police responded by shooting into the apartment, striking Ms. Taylor five times.
The Jefferson County coroner told The Courier Journal that Ms. Taylor most likely died less than a minute after she was shot.
Jamarcus Glover, Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend whose alleged packages led the police to her door that night, was arrested on Aug. 27, 2020, in possession of drugs, according to a charging document. He told The Courier Journal that Ms. Taylor had no involvement in the drug trade.
No drugs were found in Ms. Taylor’s apartment.
Four Officers Face Federal Charges in Breonna Taylor Raid NYT (revised and abridged)
Prosecutors said that two detectives and a police sergeant had falsely claimed in an affidavit used to obtain the warrant that the former boyfriend had been receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s apartment. In fact, according to the indictment, the officers had no evidence of such packages, but misrepresented their case to the judge who authorized the raid.
One of the officers charged, Joshua Jaynes, a former detective who was also fired over his role in the raid, sent a draft of the affidavit to Kelly Goodlett, another detective now facing charges, in which he included the false claim about the packages, the prosecutors said.
Ms. Goodlett knew that the claim was false, the prosecutors said, but did not object to it, and also added what they described as a “misleading” claim that the former boyfriend was using the address to Ms. Taylor’s apartment as his current address.
The third officer charged, Sgt. Kyle Meany, who led a department investigative unit, approved the affidavit despite knowing that it contained the false information, according to the indictment.
The indictment accuses two of the officers not only of including false information in the affidavit, but conspiring to lie about it afterward. Two months after Ms. Taylor’s death, prosecutors said, Mr. Jaynes and Ms. Goodlett met in Mr. Jaynes’s garage and decided to tell investigators, falsely, that a sergeant had informed them that packages were being sent to Ms. Taylor’s apartment.
Mr. Jaynes and Mr. Meany were each accused of violating Ms. Taylor’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Ms. Goodlett was accused of conspiring to falsify the affidavit, as well as conspiring to hinder the subsequent investigation into the raid. Mr. Jaynes was also charged with conspiring to hinder the investigation.
Mr. Hankison was accused of depriving Ms. Taylor, her boyfriend and their neighbors of their rights by unreasonably firing 10 bullets through a window and sliding glass door that were covered with blinds.
Ex-Detective Admits Misleading Judge Who Approved Breonna Taylor Raid NYT
A former police detective admitted on Tuesday that she had helped mislead a judge into authorizing a raid of Breonna Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Ky., setting in motion the faulty nighttime operation in which the police fatally shot Ms. Taylor.
The former detective, Kelly Goodlett, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy, admitting that she had worked with another officer to falsify a search warrant application and had later lied to cover up their act.
Ms. Goodlett, who resigned from the police force after she was charged earlier this month, was not present at the raid.
4 Louisville police charged in Breonna Taylor probe, Garland says WaPo
Breonna Taylor Raid Puts Focus on Officers Who Lie for Search WarrantsNYT
Under the stand-your-ground statute, citizens can use deadly force against an intruder inside their own home.
Which is what Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend (not ex-boyfriend) did when they heard loud banging at the door shortly after midnight
Kentucky has a statute protecting police officers who use deadly force in self-defense.
Which is what police did after the boyfriend fired a round at them.
A woman killed. An officer shot. And no one legally responsible. (WaPo, September 24, 2020)
“There’s a gunfight, but no one is criminally responsible,” said Michael Mannheimer, a law professor at Northern Kentucky University. “As unfortunate and as strange as that sounds.”
In Houston last year, two people were killed and five police officers injured during a no-knock raid on a home. No drugs were found, and police said that the search warrant had been based on false information provided by an officer.
After Taylor’s death, Louisville banned no-knock warrants and passed a law requiring police to wear body cameras while serving warrants.
Was the judge justified in issuing a search warrant that authorized the police to smash through Breonna’s door in the middle of the night?
Was a ‘no-knock’ warrant justified to search Breonna Taylor’s home? Several experts say no (Courier Journal, May 17, 2020)
Officers who killed Breonna Taylor should not have fired their weapons, internal investigator findsWaPo
Breonna Taylor’s death sparked remarkable changes to no-knock raids across America, Radley Balko WaPo
A policing strategy abandoned after Breonna Taylor’s death spreads to other citiesWaPo
A crime-reduction strategy abandoned by Louisville police after the March 2020 fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor has since spread to other major U.S. cities, gaining favor with police chiefs for its potential to reduce violent crime despite its ties to the case that sparked widespread calls for police reform.
In the months preceding the shooting, Louisville officers had studied a model known as “place network investigations.” The then-novel approach pioneered by an academic posited that crime could be curbed if police and other community partners focused on geographic connections in areas plagued by violent crime. It is the latest in a long line of U.S. policing philosophies that have used data to target crime concentrated in small areas known as hot spots.
In early 2020, a newly formed Louisville police squad installed cameras and tracking devices to surveil several vacant homes that officers believed were linked to a drug operation, according to a review of city documents. One officer was later fired and accused of lying about some of the evidence used to connect Taylor — who lived over 10 miles away — to her ex-boyfriend’s alleged drug activity.
At the time of Taylor’s death, Louisville was one of three cities to try the strategy. It later scrapped the initiative. Now, at least nine jurisdictions either plan to or have already adopted a similar model, according to a Washington Post review.
Tamara Herold, an associate professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and the architect of the place network investigations model, said that Taylor’s death should not be viewed as a consequence of the strategy. Louisville officers have said they were inspired by Herold’s research. She said she shared information with themabout the strategy, but had no involvement in how they conducted their investigations or the decisions they made.
Before taking over the Dallas department last year, Garcia consulted with criminologists at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to draft a crime-reduction plan and to oversee an effort to evaluate its results.
The first step would be to divide the city into tens of thousands of grids, about the size of football fields, and to flag roughly the top 50 grids for violent crime. Officers would patrol those areas with greater visibility and, in some grids, use investigative tactics to gather intelligence.
Also within the 29-page plan was the place network investigations model that promised to “identify and disrupt networks of criminogenic places.”
“It’s a relatively new theoretical advance in our understanding of crime and place,” said Michael Smith, a professor in the department of criminology at UTSA. “It’s certainly not been around as long as hot spots policing has been around. But I think it has shown great promise.”
Throughout the new Dallas plan, Garcia cited the research of Herold — whose “place-based investigations of violent offender territories (PIVOT)” model was first used in Cincinnati in 2016 as an experiment to combat gun violence. There, she and police officials developed a scoring system to flag “micro-locations” that were “chronically violent,” according to a summary. The strategy relied heavily on intelligence gathering — surveillance, undercover policing and the use of confidential informants — and leaned on community partners. Drug crime was one factor often driving gun violence, Herold found.
In the Cincinnati experiment, street parking was eliminated after the team concluded that the spaces were used to conceal drug transactions. Streetlights were installed. Blighted buildings were demolished. When investigators examined one residential area used by gang members, they found guns and ammunition hidden in tall grass with children playing nearby. So, they mowed the grass.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old hospital technician, had no criminal record and lived more than 10 miles outside the “microcell” under police scrutiny. Yet she quickly became ensnared in what Jaynes later said in the investigative interview was “probably one of the bigger casefiles I’ve ever been a part of.”
On Jan. 2, 2020, Louisville police officers installed a camera on a utility pole, pointing the lens west at South 24th Street and Elliott Avenue. Within one hour of the camera’s activation, detectives observed as many as 20 cars drive to and from 2424 Elliott Ave. The constant flow of cars there, they noted, was “indicative of narcotics trafficking.”
One of the cars spotted was a white 2016 Chevrolet Impala carrying Jamarcus Glover, who had a felony record for selling cocaine in Mississippi. The car was registered to Taylor, his ex-girlfriend, although detectives did not report seeing her in the vehicle that night. In later reports detailing the camera’s surveillance, detectives documented one sighting of Taylor with Glover, along with reports of her black Dodge Charger seen “numerous times” in front of the Elliott Avenue home.
On Jan. 3, 2020, police arrested Glover on charges related to guns and drugs recovered from the Elliott Avenue home and two other houses, and he was booked into jail, from where he called Taylor. After his release, the squad installed a GPS tracking device on his car that recorded six trips to 3003 Springfield Dr., Taylor’s apartment complex across town. A detective photographed Glover leaving Taylor’s apartment with what appeared to be a U.S. Postal Service package in hand.
The squad developed a theory that Glover was using Taylor and her apartment to store his drug money. “They get other people involved, and it’s usually females,” Jaynes said in his police interview.
In March, Jaynes prepared the request for no-knock warrants to enter 2424 Elliott Ave. and two neighboring houses, along with Taylor’s apartment on Springfield Drive. For Taylor’s apartment, Jaynes wrote that he had “verified through a U.S. postal inspector thatJamarcus Glover has been receiving packages at 3003 Springfield Drive #4.”
Shortly after midnight on March 13, 2020, a Louisville SWAT team raided 2424 Elliott Ave. and recovered “a large amount of suspected crack cocaine and suspected Fentanyl pills” hidden in a bag in a tree in the backyard, along with “other evidence of narcotics trafficking” including a digital scale and large amounts of cash, according to documents. Glover was arrested at the house.
Across town, officers carried out what they have described as a “knock and announce” entry into Taylor’s apartment. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire, and police returned fire, fatally shooting Taylor. Walker, a licensed gun owner, has said he heard banging soundsbut did not hear any identification — leading him to think the officers were intruders. Officials said officers found no drugs or money in Taylor’s apartment.
Eleven months after Taylor’s death, the Louisville Metro Police Department disbanded the squad dedicated to place-based investigations. Jaynes was fired last year after officials said he had lied on the search warrant affidavit about the claim that he had “verified”through a U.S. postal inspector that Glover received packages at Taylor’s apartment complex. Jaynes has sued the department’s merit board in an attempt to regain his job.
In an interview with The Post, Jaynes said he did not lie but was instead relying on information conveyed by a fellow officer. “We’re still pursuing my appeal in circuit court, and I’m going to fight this until I can’t fight no more,” he said.
Jaynes, 39, declined to answer questions about the investigative tactics his team used to focus on Taylor and Glover. But he said he believed in the philosophy behind his team’s work and disagreed with the decision to end the department’s initiative on place based investigations.
Dallas officials, citing security concerns, have not publicly identified the roughly 50 hot spot grids or the two locations in which they are testing the broader place network investigations strategy. But The Post was allowed to observe the hot spot strategy in a handful of locations last fall.
Within the grids, opinions from community members ranged from anger to ambivalence, and in some cases, cautious praise.