Criminal Justice

Feds To Investigate Death of Breonna Taylor After Botched Kentucky Narcotics Raid

Louisville Metro Police Department said officers identified themselves in a no-knock raid. Neighbors said that's not true.

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Attorneys for the family of Breonna Taylor, a woman killed by the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD), say Taylor is dead because of police carelessness. Officers with the LMPD killed Taylor during a no-knock raid, during which they also arrested her boyfriend for trying to defend the couple. After two months of internal investigation by the LMPD, the circumstances around Taylor's death will now be reviewed by the federal government.

According to a press conference held by attorney Brian Crump, on March 13 Taylor was home asleep with boyfriend Kenneth Walker when LMPD served a no-knock narcotics raid on their home. Crump says the officers used a battering ram to break down the door and that the couple called 911 believing they were victims of a home invasion.

Walker, who Crump said is a registered gun owner, shot in the direction of the officers, hitting Officer Jon Mattingly in the leg. Police shot back. Taylor was shot eight times and died. Crump said that the LMPD asked Taylor's mother soon after the shooting if she and Walker were having issues, which he believes means that the department wanted to pin Taylor's death on Walker. To complicate matters further, in an affidavit filed immediately after the raid, the LMPD referred to Taylor as the shooter.

Walker was arrested and indicted for felonious assault and the attempted murder of a police officer. The indictment accused Walker of "manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life when he wantonly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death."

In response to a request for comment, LMPD referred back to a press conference held on March 13, hours after Taylor was killed. In that press conference, the LMPD says that around 12:40 a.m., members of the Criminal Interdiction Division "knocked on the door several times and announced their presence as police who were there for the search warrant." The officers then forced entry and were met by Walker's gunfire. Mattingly was injured and the other officers returned fire. The officers were placed on administrative leave while the LMPD conducted an internal review.

Crump said the officers did not attempt to identify themselves peacefully or give the couple time to respond. At least four neighbors told lawyers that LMPD officers never knocked or identified themselves before the exchange of gunfire. The Criminal Interdiction Division, which investigates "violent street gangs, armed career criminals as well as criminal enterprises involving gang members," is not issued body-worn cameras, and so LMPD does not have video footage of the incident.

According to the search warrant obtained by Reason, LMPD Detective Joshua Jaynes told a court he had probable cause to believe that Walker and a man named Jamarcus Glover were supplying drugs to a "trap house" approximately 10 miles, or 20 minutes, away from Taylor's apartment. Taylor's apartment was named on the warrant because Glover was seen picking up a package from the residence. A U.S. Postal Inspector confirmed that Glover occasionally received mail at Taylor's apartment.

Crump refuted this, saying Glover only received one package from Taylor's apartment in January. Sam Aguiar, the local lawyer for Taylor's family, also questioned why the LMPD didn't pull Glover over when they observed him receiving the package, noting that Glover is pulled over at least once a month.

At the end of the warrant, Jaynes requested a no-knock raid on Taylor's apartment.

"[Jaynes] is requesting a No-Knock entry to the premises due to the nature of how these drug traffickers operate," the warrant states, arguing, "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."

Despite video evidence to support the police version of events, the LMPD has painted Walker as an attempted cop killer. Upon learning that a judge had granted him home incarceration in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the River City Fraternal Order of Police released a statement condemning the decision.

"Just one week ago, this man violently attacked our officers, and was charged with attempted murder after shooting a sergeant! Not only is he a threat to the men and women of law enforcement, but he also poses a significant danger to the community we protect!" they wrote.

After receiving national attention in the past week, however, both Taylor and Walker may very well be vindicated. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad announced on Thursday that they asked the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky to review the internal investigation of Taylor's death.

The dispute over whether police adequately identified themselves have led critics of police shootings to draw comparisons between Taylor's death and that death of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth, Texas, last October. Body-worn camera footage showed now-former officer Aaron Dean conducting a welfare search at Jefferson's home at the request of a neighbor. Dean, who neighbors say did not identify himself, saw Jefferson through her window, shouted at her to put her hands up, and then shot her fatally. Dean has since been indicted for murder.

Regardless of whether police announced themselves before breaking down the couple's door, Taylor is yet another example of how aggressive, no-knock SWAT raids can end in tragedy. 

NEXT: The Reopen Debate Is a False Dichotomy

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  1. Shot them in the leg? Newbie mistake.

    1. Mal. Guy killed me, Mal. Killed me when a sword. How weird us that?

      1. with a sword*

        Goddammit.

        1. is that*

          Godfuckingdammit.

          1. It’s almost like an edit or preview function might be necessary and proper. Almost.

            P.S. Both sides, to be sure.

  2. Spoiler alert: After a very fair and thorough investigation by the shooting officers golf buddy, the shooting was determined to be justified. I just saved you from having to follow this for two years and ending up disappointed.

  3. Despite video evidence to support the police version of events…

    There is?

    1. Yeah, that tripped me up too. I think that sentence is missing a phrase like “the lack of.”

      1. Yeah, it seems like words are missing there.

        1. End the drug war.

          All of it.

          Now.

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    2. Miserable editing.

      Or no editing. They don’t read this stuff; they just write it.

  4. Steel doors with multiple horizontal bars.
    Grenade netting on all windows.
    Many floodlights that come on with a single switch.
    Audio and video surveillance devices with off site recording.
    All necessary because “no knock” warrants are granted with the same rubber stamp used by the FISA courts.
    The cops hit the wrong house too many times not to take all of these reasonable precautions.
    It might save the life of one child.

    1. What does the first item on that list look like?

      1. Like the locking mechanisms on a good gun safe. Or a bank vault.

        1. If the cops came up against a metal door, would they charge the homeowner with obstruction?

          1. Eventually they’ll just extend this to just HAVING a front door. Who do you think you are getting in their way with that obstruction?!?!?

          2. Maybe.

            But it won’t really obstruct the cops. They’ll chain the door to their troop carrier and pull that bitch right off.

  5. It’s always interesting to see how cops go to the trouble of obtaining a no-knock warrant then claim after the fact that they did, in fact, politely knock and announce themselves.

    1. Why even bother showing up at 12:40 AM otherwise? If you want people to answer the door, maybe show up six hours earlier. Or wait until morning. Unless there’s an imminent threat to human life there’s no reason they should be allowed to bust in.

      1. “Destruction of evidence” is the password.

        Me, I’d roll up, in an armored car if paranoid, use the bullhorn to announce you want to arrest so-and-so, and wait. If the occupants destroy the evidence, great, the drugs are gone and some occupant owes some wholesaler a lot of money. If getting rid of drugs really is their goal, mission accomplished, go home. If getting rid of drug dealers is their goal, great, the wholesaler will do that for you, mission soon to be accomplished, go home.

        1. But if the (drug) evidence is destroyed, how are the heroes supposed to consume/resell them?

      2. Yup. To use their language, the totality of the circumstances leads me to believe that the police are lying on their reports.

        Well, actually, possibly not actually lying. If the couple had time to call 911, they probably did “knock and announce”. If you have ever seen video of “knock and announce” raids like this, there’s a pattern.

        A few guys crowd at the door. They look at each other and say they are ready to go.

        One or more guys begins pounding on the door. Several guys yell “police search warrant” over the top of each other, speaking as quickly as they can.

        After one to 3 seconds of that, they make eye contact again and nod for the battering ram. Someone may or may not order the use of the battering ram. One or two swings with a battering ram and the door flies open.

        Officers burst through the door, yelling instructions and communications over the top of each other in an indecipherable cacophony. “Police, Search Warrant!”, “Hands Up!”, “Don’t Move!”, “Get down!”, “Freeze”, “Show me your hands!”, “On your left!!”, “Get out here!”, “Don’t Move!!” All over top of each other.

        It is actually a miracle more people are not shot in these raids. From the point of view of the residents of the building, it is a disorganized mess designed to sow confusion. Add in late night timeframes where people are likely to be in a deep sleep and weekend nights where there is a chance that people will have been drinking before going to sleep… and you’ve got a pretty good recipe for that 3 second “Knock and announce” before busting the door in to be misinterpreted or completely missed.

        As you say, if the idea is to avoid destruction of evidence, maybe showing up in the middle of the night isn’t the optimal answer. Simply waiting for people to leave the residence might work even better than bursting in while they are asleep.

        Absent drug law reform, perhaps limiting late night, no-knock tactics for situations that actually require those tactics is in order.

        1. “limiting late night, no-knock tactics for situations that actually require those tactics is in order.”

          I’m having trouble coming up with a situation that would in fact require/justify such tactics.

          An organized kidnapping ring holding multiple hostages comes to mind, but then with these kinds of tactics, the cops would probably end up shooting the victims.

  6. “The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs
    When all participants of a “system” are feeding from the same nose-bag, free from competition — and are allowed (by your neighbors and friends — hopefully not you) to
    • Make the laws,
    • Enforce the laws,
    • Prosecute the laws,
    • Hire the prosecutors,
    • License the “defense” attorneys,
    • Pay the “judges”,
    • Build the jails,
    • Contract jails out to private entities,
    • Employ and pay the wardens,
    • Employ and pay the guards,
    • Employ and pay the parole officers,
    One can’t honestly call it a “justice” system. It’s a system of abject tyranny.

    1. There has to be some form of laws and law enforcement. And judges need to be paid somehow and prisons of some sort need to exist. Without these you just have another form of tyrants.

    2. Why can’t you call it a justice system?
      After all, every one of those things is done by people elected by your fellow citizens.
      Your neighbors must be the tyrannical ones.
      You need to move.

  7. they asked for a no knock warrant/raid because “we know how these kinds of people roll”.

    Duhh… on what basis did they establish that these specific people ARE “these kinds of people”? If they had that sort of evidence, they should have been taken care of long before this.

    So Charlie whatzizname picked up a package from that address. What was IN THAT PACKAGE> Do they have proof positive that the contents of that specific package are prohibited items? Maybe he’s just bought a new toaster off Amazon, has it shipped there because its secure for him.

    Let’s see what was IN that package the guy picked up. Don’t know? Don’t have solid PROOF? You have determined the character of one individual based on his receiving a package of unknown contents. Maybe its his month’s supply of adult diapers. Or food for his pet cat. MAYBE it was a new bicycle helmet, or a month’s supply of good coffee. Even a pair of new Nikes, with the RED swoop.

    Seems all too often these coppers go al felony no knock based on a LOT of supposition and assumption. NOW someone is dead, because they got surprised late at night by all hell breaking loose and right into their front door.. which was NOT steel else the coppers never could have breached it, nor could the folks being raided by they had no idea whom, have fired THROUGH the steel door…. let alone the cops firing EIGHT rounds (at least.. if eight hit they probably fired eighty) THROUGH the door.

    Too much of this sounds like some screenplay from some LA Cops TeVee show. Except that this time the dead woman is REALLY dead.

    1. Beyond that…. package dropped off at X address, picked up by person who does not live at X address is hardly evidence of a criminal enterprise. There was a mayor in Maryland who was raided in similar fashion because of drug dealers using exactly that tactic… they had FedEx drop a package on random people’s porches, and then picked them up while they were at work. Based on that, the police kicked his door down in the middle of the night and shot his dog.

      Nice job of investigation there, sport.

  8. We need to end the idea that this is a war. Cops are not soldiers. Period. Full stop. Nothing more needs to be said.

    1. Nope. The rules of engagement for soldiers are much more strict than they are for police.

      1. Which is true. But the missions are completely different. Stricter ROEs for cops and a return to their original mission. More community policing.

  9. Thanksfor sharing this amazing News

  10. I actually slightly agree with their statement that he “poses a significant danger to the community we protect” only it’s not the community they mean to imply. The only community they care about is their own gang of armed robbers and kidnappers and no-one past their gang’s “thin blue line” is considered part of their “community”. Their whole gang deserves to be in jail for a long time for this murder, at the very least until they show true remorse for their crimes.

    1. I’d say it is pretty clear that “no knock warrants” pose a significant threat to the community.

      Therefore, “we the people” should be holding the judges more accountable for this.

      Blaming the police who kick in the door is not quite the same as blaming the gun that was discharged, but it is in the same ballpark. Someone else pointed that team at the door. Someone else trained them in these tactics. Someone else passed the laws that made getting high illegal. Someone else decided that this was the enforcement priority.

      Sure, they are the guys who actually kicked the door in, but there’s a lot of people who are responsible for putting them there after midnight in the first place. Those are the people we need to hold accountable.

      As long as everyone keeps focusing on “bad cops” or “racist police” as the root cause, nothing is going to change. There are over 20k no knock raids in the USA every year. Who knows how many more “knock and announce” raids where the “knock and announce” comes mere seconds before the door is breached and armed officers come flying through the door… You put people in an inherently dangerous situation like that tens of thousands of times a year and a certain percentage of the time, people are going to be shot by mistake. It is inevitable. Saying that this is because of racism is like blaming gravity on racism. You don’t want people getting shot in raids like this, then don’t do them 20,000 times every year.

      1. “Blaming the police who kick in the door is not quite the same as blaming the gun that was discharged, but it is in the same ballpark. ”

        It’s more complicated than that.

        “Someone else trained them in these tactics.”

        You can change the training and the policies, but unless you either purge the ranks on any officers who got the old training or impose real consequences/discipline on individual officers for violating the new policies/training, then nothing will change.

      2. Unless it is a hostage situation or where someone is in immediate danger or a good possibility of violence, I don’t think you can justify these tactics at all, and especially for such weak sause as the possibility evidence will be destroyed. That is the crown putting its interest ahead of the subjects, and is worthy of open revolt (didn’t several states pass laws stating you were justified in shoot back at the cops, especially if the warrant was felonious?).

        And sure, there is enough blame to go around, but it is the cops on the ground that make the final decision, which gives all manner of cover to other types of behaviors.

        The fact police are not putting any manner of concern towards the safety of the suspect tells you everything you need to know.

        Wait until the populace returns the favor.

        1. “The fact police are not putting any manner of concern towards the safety of the suspect tells you everything you need to know.”

          The suspect? They are not putting any manner of concern towards the safety of bystanders.

          They have no safety concerns other than officer safety. And they aren’t doing a bang up job on officer safety.

          I would bet that a fair percentage of the officers who get shot in these raids are victims of “friendly fire”. But the felony murder rule plus credulous DAs/Courts/Juries let them hide this by blaming the “suspect” with no evidence.

  11. Another “reason” story where the narrative is provided by a lawyer – AKA liar – for the criminals.
    Yeah, you’re gonna get an accurate account from him.

  12. Just more unfortunate collateral damage in the war on drugs that keeps so many of our fine public servants employed, and gives them absolute immunity for anything they do.

  13. Kind of sort of related to the whole no-knock thing.
    The local sheriff was often called to the Branch Dividian compound because of complaints from locals about one thing or another, often “hearing machine guns”. He would drive up in a marked patrol car, wearing a uniform, during normal business hours, and knock on the front door. They would open the door, discuss the complaint, show the sheriff their gun range where multiple people were firing semi-automatic rifles, and explain that perhaps the neighbors were mistaken. The sheriff would then thank them and leave.
    No one was shot. Not even a dog.
    So perhaps the feds did not choose wisely.

  14. Somebody is responsible for a policy that allowed those officers to execute this raid without wearing body cameras. Find those individuals and publish their addresses, so they can be SWATted.
    Given the expense involved in these raids, not to mention the risk, why is it that police cannot develop technology to block sewer lines? This would frustrate attempts to flush drugs, which presumably provide the exigency supporting no-knock entries.

  15. “why is it that police cannot develop technology to block sewer lines?”

    Because sewer lines are buried. There are access points on the mains but then you are talking about blocking the sewers for a lot of innocent people. To block their lateral, would require digging it up, kind of hard to hide.

    Besides, drugs are water soluble and they won’t be flushing them down the toilet in large waterproof containers. Blocking the sewer in an attempt to collect drugs flushed down bathroom drains is pointless.

  16. Regardless of whether police announced themselves before breaking down the couple’s door, this is an extremely dangerous practice that can end in serious or fatal injury. electrician midland tx

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