LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville police called off a warrant search of Breonna Taylor’s apartment after a drug suspect was located elsewhere, but then went ahead with the deadly raid to look for other suspects with no connection to Taylor, her family says in a new court filing.
Taylor, a emergency medical technician who had settled down for the night at her Louisville apartment, was fatally shot when officers burst into her apartment in the early morning hours of March 13. The shooting set off weeks of protests, policy changes and a call for the officers who shot Taylor to be criminally charged. Global protests on behalf of Taylor, George Floyd in Minnesota and others have been part of national reckoning over racism and police brutality.
“Connecting the dots, it’s clear that these officers should never have been at Breonna Taylor’s home in the first place, and that they invaded the residence with no probable cause," national civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement. Crump and other Louisville attorneys are representing Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, in a civil lawsuit, which was amended this week to include new allegations about the night of the shooting.
Louisville police have declined to comment on the investigation, and an internal probe of the officer's actions has been turned over to the Kentucky attorney general for review. The FBI is also investigating potential civil rights violations by the police.
The warrant used to enter Taylor's home just after midnight was secured by police observing an alleged drug dealer, identified in the complaint as “JG,” at Taylor's home two months earlier. Taylor and the man had a prior relationship, the family's suit said.
But that man, Jamarcus Glover, was arrested that night more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) away, though two other suspects the police were looking for were not with Glover, the suit said. Those suspects, identified in the suit as “AW” and “DC” never had a relationship with Taylor and neither looked like Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend who was with her the night she was shot, the court filing said.
The suit said “AW” lived at a separate address that police also had a warrant for, but they proceeded to search Taylor's house to see if he or the other man were there.
An ambulance that had been stationed near Taylor's apartment in anticipation of the initial search had been called off, the suit said. It said the EMS unit was cleared because police “had never actually intended to raid Breonna’s home unless (Glover) was there.”
“As such, it does indeed appear that the (police) ‘hit the wrong house’ when they went to Springfield (Taylor's apartment), rather than actually hitting the house in which the target was actually located,” the 31-page complaint said.
Police arrived at Taylor's apartment about 12:40 a.m. and banged on the door but did not say they were police officers, the suit said. Louisville police have said they knocked and announced their presence at the apartment.
After the door was knocked down by a battering ram, Officer Jonathan Mattingly went inside and was shot in the leg by Walker, who has said he didn't know who was entering the apartment and was firing a warning shot. An attempted murder charge against Walker was later dropped.
Mattingly and the other officers serving the warrant, Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, then began shooting “erratically, recklessly, willfully, wantonly and maliciously from inside the home, outside the home, outside a neighbor’s home, outside Breonna’s patio door and outside the window to Breonna’s sister’s room,” the suit said. Taylor was struck by bullets in the hallway. Hankison has been fired; the other two officers remain on administrative assignment.
The suit, which named the three officers as defendants, said Taylor lived for another five or six minutes after she was shot but an ambulance was not on the scene.
The complaint also said police conducted a concerted effort to remove Glover and other alleged drug dealers from a residential area near downtown to make way for a new development with federal funding.
Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Fischer, called the allegations “outrageous” and “without foundation or supporting facts." Other advocates of the project, including Mary Ellen Weiderwohl, who leads the city community development group Louisville Forward, said those allegations in the suit are a “gross mischaracterization” of a plan to build new affordable housing in low-income areas.