Louisville Courier-Journal - July 5, 2020
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Breonna Taylor's shooting was the result of a Louisville police department operation to clear out a block in western Louisville that was part of a major gentrification makeover, according to attorneys representing the slain 26-year-old's family.
Lawyers for Taylor's family allege in court documents filed in Jefferson Circuit Court Sunday that a police squad — named Place-Based Investigations — had misled narcotics detectives to target a home on Elliott Avenue, leading them to believe they were after some of the city's largest violent crime and drug rings.
The complaint — which amends an earlier lawsuit filed by Taylor's mother against the three Louisville officers who fired their weapons into Taylor's home — claims Taylor was caught up in a case that was less about a drug house on Elliott Avenue and more about speeding up the city's multi-million dollar Vision Russell development plan.
Neither Mayor Greg Fischer's office nor Louisville Metro Police responded to Courier Journal requests for comment Sunday night.
Accusations contained in complaints do not constitute evidence in a court of law and represent only one side of the argument.
The warrants carried out in the narcotics investigation on March 13 were meant to target one of the "primary roadblocks" to the development: A man named Jamarcus Glover, according to the complaint.
Glover is one of Taylor's ex-boyfriends with whom she maintained a "passive" friendship, Sam Aguiar, one of the attorneys, has previously said.
In the affidavit seeking the no-knock search warrant for Taylor's Springfield Drive apartment, Detective Joshua Jaynes wrote that he'd seen Glover leave Taylor's apartment in January with a USPS package before driving to a "known drug house."
The detective wrote he then verified "through a US Postal Inspector" that Glover had been receiving packages at Taylor's address.
A U.S. postal inspector in Louisville, however, told WDRB News that LMPD didn't use his office to verify that Glover was receiving packages at Taylor's apartment and that a different agency had asked in January to look into whether Taylor's home was receiving suspicious mail. The office had concluded it wasn't.
Jaynes is now on administrative reassignment until questions about "how and why the search warrant was approved" are answered, interim Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder said last month.
It is that tenuous connection to Glover that led police to Taylor's apartment on March 13, Aguiar and his co-counsel, Lonita Baker, say in the complaint.
"Breonna’s home should never have had police there in the first place," the attorneys wrote in the filing. "When the layers are peeled back, the origin of Breonna’s home being raided by police starts with a political need to clear out a street for a large real estate development project and finishes with a newly formed, rogue police unit violating all levels of policy, protocol and policing standards.
"Breonna’s death was the culmination of radical political and police conduct."
Glover rented a home in the 2400 block of Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood, the filing alleges, placing it squarely in the area of the planned redevelopment.
"The reality was that the occupants were not anywhere close to Louisville’s versions of Pablo Escobar or Scarface," the court complaint says. "And they were not violent criminals. They were simply a setback to a large real estate development deal and thus the issue needed to be cleaned up."
Court records show Jaynes sought five warrants on March 12, including one for Taylor's apartment, a suspected drug house in the Russell neighborhood on Elliott Avenue, two vacant homes nearby on Elliott Avenue and a suspected stash house on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
Glover, along with a man named Adrian Walker, was named on all five search warrants and was among the night's primary targets.
Glover was arrested on Elliott Avenue that night for trafficking and firearm offenses. The case remains pending in Circuit Court.
Glover, 30, has faced drug charges before and had pending drugs and weapons charges against him at the time of the March 13 warrant.
Jaynes also requested a warrant for the Elliott Avenue home on April 21, with Glover again listed as a target. Glover was arrested a second time on April 22 after the warrant was executed, court records show, for additional drug and trafficking charges. The case remains pending.
The county property value administrator website shows that Metro Government now owns the property on Elliott Avenue.
Fischer’s administration has been promoting “Vision Russell" since 2016 as a plan to stimulate affordable housing and economic growth in the West End and bridge a racial and economic gap that has been Louisville's defining divide for decades.
Louisville was among five finalist cities that ultimately won a nearly $30 million in federal grants in the final months of the Obama administration to pay for the plan, which included demolishing the Beecher Terrace public housing development.
Those funds were part of an overall $200 million pot raked in by the Fischer administration from private, foundation, nonprofit and public sources.
City leaders have boasted about how "Vision Russell” aims to bridge the divide between downtown and its adjacent West End neighborhoods, where it was known to have low-income and crime-scarred streets spanning from Ninth to 32nd streets between Broadway and Market streets.
"Life does not present us with many opportunities like this," Fischer said in December 2016, "and it's our duty to make the most of it."
Part of the larger “Vision Russell" plan was a smaller project called the “‘Keeping It Real’ Elliott Street Redevelopment,” according to previously released city plans, which is where the alleged Glover drug house was located.