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Details of police investigation into Breonna Taylor released, but raise more questions

Black Lives Matter protesters march in Louisville, Ky., in September.
Black Lives Matter protesters march Sept. 25 in Louisville, Ky.
(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Police files released Wednesday show contacts between Breonna Taylor and a man she dated previously who was suspected of drug dealing, but raise new questions about what led narcotics investigators to raid her apartment, where she died in a burst of police gunfire.

Louisville Metro Police Lt. Dale Massey, a member of the SWAT team that arrived on the scene, described the execution of the “no knock” warrant on Taylor’s apartment as an “egregious act.” Massey told investigators that, after seeing what had occurred and from their interactions with another police officer, he and other SWAT members felt that “something really bad happened.”

Massey’s comments were included in extensive testimony and other evidence that shed light on the internal police review of Taylor’s death. Protesters in Louisville and around the country have demanded accountability for her killing.

The police files contain conflicting information about when the contacts ended between Taylor and her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover.

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In a recorded jailhouse conversation on the day she died, Glover said he and Taylor had not “been around each other in over two months.”

“I ain’t got nothing going on with Bre no more,” he told a woman whose name was redacted from the report.

Hours of material in the grand jury proceedings for Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting by police in Louisville, Ky., have been made public.

Other evidence suggests that Taylor and Glover were together in the same vehicle a month before her March 13 death.

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On Feb. 13, a pole camera showed Glover driving a car registered to Taylor. He pulled up in front of a residence and went inside. A few minutes later, Taylor got out of the passenger side of the car, looked around for a few seconds and then got back in the vehicle. Glover soon left the home, returned to the car and drove off.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville emergency medical technician studying to become a nurse, was shot multiple times after being roused from sleep by police at her door. The warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation.

When police came through the door using a battering ram, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired his gun once. No drugs were found at the apartment.

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Taylor’s name came up in a drug case at least in part because she had posted bail a few times from 2017 to January 2020 for Glover and another defendant, Darreal Forest, in amounts as high as $5,000, according to police files released Wednesday.

The case has fueled nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar said the release of the police files was “long overdue.”

“We think the public is going to understand even more so why we’re so frustrated with how this investigation went down and why there was no criminal accountability,” he said by phone.

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As for the investigative accounts regarding Taylor and Glover, he said: “You don’t see anything in these files that denotes any sort of connection between the two of them for the vast majority of February and March. So it still [raises] the question what made them decide ... to go hit [Taylor’s] house.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said it was important to release the police investigation files as quickly as possible after making “necessary redactions.” Much of the information in the files was included in records from the grand jury proceedings released last week, he said.

“I urge all to be sensitive that these files contain information and images that are traumatic and painful,” Fischer said in a release.

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The files included investigative letters, interview transcripts, officers’ body-camera videos, audio and video files of interviews, crime scene unit reports and search warrants.

Some items were redacted, blurred or withheld for privacy or legal reasons. Photos and videos of Taylor were “blurred out of respect,” police said. Audio of personal conversations that officers had while their body cameras were activated were redacted. Those conversations “had nothing to do with the scene or case,” police said.

Details of the chaos and confusion during the raid were revealed in 15 hours of audio recordings released recently. They contained testimony and recorded interviews presented last month to the Kentucky grand jury that decided not to charge any Louisville police officers in Taylor’s killing.

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Officer Brett Hankison, who has since been fired, was the only officer indicted by the grand jury, which charged him with wanton endangerment for shooting into another home with people inside. He has pleaded not guilty.

On Wednesday evening, Taylor’s killing figured into a sharp campaign debate exchange between Vice President Mike Pence, and Kamala Harris, Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate. Harris condemned the killing of Taylor and the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, and spoke about the protests against racial injustice that followed, which President Trump has portrayed as “riots” as he called for law and order.

Six months after Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by police in her Kentucky apartment, a grand jury delivered a long-awaited decision.

“We are never going to condone violence, but we must always fight for the values that we hold dear,” Harris said during the debate. She said she did not believe justice was done in the Taylor case. And she said a Biden-Harris administration would ban chokeholds, declaring that Floyd — who lay pinned to the ground by an officer for several minutes — would be alive today if there were such a ban.

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Also late Wednesday, Kentucky Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron filed a motion in a local court asking it to dismiss a request by an anonymous grand juror to speak publicly about the panel’s deliberations in the Taylor case. Cameron issued a statement expressing “concerns with a grand juror seeking to make anonymous and unlimited disclosures about the grand jury proceedings.”

He said such proceedings were kept secret by long-standing legal precedent in order to protect the safety of all involved.


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