A Kentucky EMT worker shot dead in her home during a police raid was mistakenly targeted during a hunt for a suspect believed to be in a “trap house” more than 10 miles away—who was already in police custody, a lawsuit and police records state.
Internal records obtained by The Courier-Journal show the Louisville Metro Police Department intended to execute several “no-knock” search warrants looking for a suspected drug dealer who lived in a different part of town. Instead, they entered Breonna Taylor’s home unannounced in the early morning hours of March 13 and opened fire.
Taylor, a 26-year-old certified EMT worker who worked for two local hospitals and was asleep at the time, was shot eight times in a case that has garnered national outcry and demands for a federal investigation from several prominent leaders, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
“Breonna Taylor should be alive right now,” Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing Taylor’s family, tweeted on Wednesday. “Yet here we are, the loss of another innocent, young Black woman. Another beautiful life lost! Louisville Police, your officers need to be held accountable.”
According to police records, the “no-knock” search warrant granted by a judge as part of a narcotics investigation was executed just before 1 a.m. on March 13.
Despite the “no-knock” provision, Louisville Metro Police Department Lt. Ted Eidem claimed officers had “knocked on the door several times and announced their presence as police who were there with a search warrant.”
A lawsuit filed Monday by Taylor’s family, however, alleges that not only did the plainclothes officers enter the home “without knocking and without announcing themselves,” but they approached the house in unmarked cars “in a manner which kept them from being detected by neighbors.”
Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s 27-year-old boyfriend, was startled awake from a “peaceful sleep” by the officer’s entry and believed the apartment was being burglarized. He used his legal firearm to fire one gunshot out of self-defense, the lawsuit states. The shot wounded an officer in the leg—and prompted return fire of more than 20 rounds into the home.
“The officers then entered Breonna’s home without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers,” according to the lawsuit. “Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Breonna’s home and also into the adjacent home, where a five-year-old child and a pregnant mother had been sleeping.”
According to The Courier-Journal, the no-knock entry is only granted in investigations where there is reasonable suspicion that an announced entry would be dangerous. In this case, officers argued it was needed because “these drug traffickers have a history of attempting to destroy evidence, have cameras on the location that compromise detectives once an approach to the dwelling is made, and have a history of fleeing from law enforcement.”
In reality, neither Taylor nor Walker had “any criminal history for drugs of violence,” or any drugs at the apartment, the lawsuit states.
Records show Taylor’s address was listed on the warrant based on the belief that one of the suspects, Jamarcus Glover, used her home to receive mail, keep drugs, or stash money.
The affidavit summarizing the investigation alleges that Glover once went to Taylor’s apartment in January and left with a “suspected USPS package” before going to a “known drug house.” The warrant also states that a car registered to Taylor was seen in front of the “drug house” on several occasions, which was about 10 miles from Taylor’s apartment.
Sam Aguiar, an attorney also representing Taylor’s family, also said at a Wednesday zoom news conference that Glover and Taylor dated two years ago and had maintained a “passive friendship.” The lawyer, however, maintained the package delivered to Taylor’s house was an “isolated incident” and did not justify a no-knock warrant.
The lawsuit says that Glover—the main target of search warrants—was “located and identified by LMPD prior to the warrant being executed at Breonna’s home.” Despite his arrest, the officers “elected to proceed with executing the warrant.”
“Breonna had posed no threat to the officers and did nothing to deserve to die at their hands,” the lawsuit adds, calling the 26-year-old “a beautiful human being who was also an essential front-line medical professional in this community.”
Taylor’s case has jumped into the national spotlight in recent weeks, prompting several prominent activists, attorneys, and local ministers to demand an investigation into the shooting. A petition calling for charges against the three officers involved in the raid had garnered more than 80,000 signatures by Wednesday.
“I’m calling for the Department of Justice to investigate Breonna Taylor's death,” former Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris tweeted Wednesday. “Her family deserves answers.”
Gov. Andy Beshear called the incident “troubling” and said there should be careful reviews of the investigation by the commonwealth attorney, Kentucky attorney general and U.S. attorney.
Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., called for the Justice Department to look into Taylor’s death on Wednesday and urged Beshear to act after the 26-year-old’s “life was cut short by a hail of bullets from the LMPD, who were in the wrong house & firing repeatedly.”
“We are saddened by the tragic death of Breonna Taylor and the circumstances surrounding her death,” the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition said in a statement calling for an FBI investigation. “As truth seekers and believers, we seek the complete truth of the facts and the circumstances surrounding her death.”
Walker has since been arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer. The officers—identified as Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove—were reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation. The Louisville Metro Police Department declined to comment.
Crump, who is also representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery and joined Taylor’s legal team on Monday, said he is seeking for the “reckless” officers involved “be held accountable to the full extent of the law” for the “execution” of an innocent woman.
He told The Daily Beast on Wednesday he is “cautiously optimistic that these officers are going to be held accountable” because the police department has not provided any answers regarding her death or facts about how the incident occurred.
“The national attention needs to shine on this case because black women’s lives matter too,” he said, adding that the police department had not taken responsibility for a “senseless killing.” “It's far too often that when black women are killed they just don’t get the same attention that is given to men. That needs to change. Breonna needs the same attention [given to] Ahmaud.”
Amid public pressure, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Tuesday called for a "thorough investigation" into Taylor’s case, stating that he had spoken with Louisville Metropolitan Police Department Chief Steve Conrad about the need for an extensive probe.
“As always, my priority is that the truth comes out and for justice to follow the part of the truth,” Fischer said in a statement on Tuesday, two months after the fatal incident. "Police work can involve incredibly difficult situations. Additionally, residents have rights. These two concepts must be weighed by our justice system as the case proceeds.”
Fischer added that the police department's Public Integrity Unit was conducting an investigation and a final report would be handed over to the commonwealth attorney to determine if any legal steps should be taken.
Aguiar added Wednesday he hoped the national exposure of the 26-year-old’s tragic death would shine a light on “a very corrupt police department.” “The truth will be uncovered,” he said.
Crump told The Daily Beast: “If you ran for Maud, you need to stand for Breonna.”