Even after Breonna Taylor broke up with Jamarcus Glover, he continued to receive packages at her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. That arrangement had lethal consequences, because it was the main justification for the reckless, fruitless March 13 drug raid that killed Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old EMT with no criminal record.
Police obtained the no-knock warrant to search Taylor's apartment by suggesting that Glover, who was arrested for drug dealing that same night, had been stashing "narcotics and/or proceeds from the sale of narcotics" there. But according to newly released transcripts of interviews with Louisville police officers, they knew a month before they invaded Taylor's home that Glover's packages contained neither of those things.
The interviews, conducted as part of an internal investigation after the raid, reveal that Joshua Jaynes, the detective who obtained the search warrant that proved to be Taylor's death warrant, learned in early February that there was nothing suspicious about the packages that Glover had delivered at her apartment, which came from Amazon. Jaynes nevertheless used those packages to imply that she was involved in Glover's illegal activity, which Glover insists is not true.
According to Jaynes' search warrant affidavit, he saw Glover pick up a USPS package at Taylor's apartment on January 16. He later told Sgt. Jason Vance, an investigator with the Louisville Metro Police Department's Public Integrity Unit, that he asked Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who worked with the local Postal Inspector's Office as a member of the department's Airport Interdiction Team (and who later participated in the raid that killed Taylor), to look into the mail that Glover was receiving.
Initially, it seemed that Jaynes had discovered important evidence in the case against Glover. According to Jaynes, Mattingly told him the Postal Inspector's Office was "doing [an] investigation on this guy" because "he's getting suspicious packages." Jaynes was excited at the prospect of a "reversal" that would catch Glover accepting delivery of "dope" detected by the postal service. "I was like, 'That's awesome,'" he said in the May 19 interview with Vance. "I was pumped. I was like, 'This is perfect.' I was like, 'This is how we're gonna get this guy is through reversal.'"
But "this guy," it turned out, was not Jamarcus Glover. It was a man named Jason Glover, and the "suspicious packages" had nothing to do with Taylor. According to Jaynes, Mattingly reported that "your guy just gets Amazon or mail packages there." The phrase "or mail packages" leaves Jaynes some wiggle room to claim he reasonably suspected that Jamarcus Glover was having drug money, if not "dope," sent to Taylor's apartment. But that part seems to be a convenient invention. Later in the same interview, Jaynes said this:
[Mattingly] told me that [Glover] either gets Amazon—Amazon or mail. I remember "Amazon" resonating in my head. I just remember the word Amazon. And it could have been mail packages or mail or just mail. I—I can't remember.
In a May 15 interview with WDRB, the local Fox TV station, Tony Gooden, a postal inspector in Louisville, said city police had never consulted with his office about the packages Glover received at Taylor's apartment. Gooden added that a different law enforcement agency, which he declined to identify, had asked about the packages in January, when his office concluded "there's no packages of interest going there." My former Reason colleague Radley Balko, writing at The Washington Post, reported that "a source with knowledge of the case has since told me that the packages contained clothes and shoes."
Unless we think it is plausible that Amazon was involved in Glover's drug business, the source of the packages showed that Jaynes' suspicions about them were unjustified. By his account, he knew that "in the first week of February." But that did not stop him from seeking a warrant to search Taylor's apartment on March 12.
"Affiant verified through a US Postal Inspector that Jamarcus Glover has been receiving packages at 3003 Springfield Drive #4 [Taylor's apartment]," he wrote. "Affiant knows through training and experience that it is not uncommon for drug traffickers to receive mail packages at different locations to avoid detection from law enforcement. Affiant believes, through training and experience, that Mr. J. Glover may be keeping narcotics and/or proceeds from the sale of narcotics at 3003 Springfield Drive #4 for safekeeping."
In his interview with Jaynes, Vance wondered about that claim. "If you glanced at this affidavit," Vance said, "you would be like, 'Man, I thought he said that they weren't receiving suspicious packages.' You're not saying suspicious package; you're just saying packages, period."
Vance framed the issue this way:
Vance: For somebody who may not be familiar with narcotics-type investigations, are you saying that just because he wasn't getting suspicious packages doesn't mean that he wasn't involved in drug trafficking?
Jaynes: Correct. Yes, he very much was so, yes.
The relevant question, of course, is not whether Glover was "involved in drug trafficking"; police had considerable evidence of that, gleaned from surveillance of a suspected "trap house" on Elliott Avenue and a suspected "stash house" on Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The question is whether Taylor was "involved in drug trafficking," and police had no evidence of that, aside from her continued contact with Glover and her willingness to let him use her apartment for Amazon deliveries.
Jaynes not only misrepresented those packages as evidence of Taylor's complicity. As Balko has noted, the detective offered no evidence specific to her that would justify a no-knock warrant. He simply cut-and-pasted boilerplate about the risk of violent resistance and/or evidence destruction in drug cases, which the Supreme Court has said is not enough to justify dispensing with the usual knock-and-announce rule.
"There was clearly no probable cause to believe drugs were being dealt from her apartment, and no probable cause that Breonna or her boyfriend [Kenneth Walker] were doing anything illegal," says Daniel Klein, a former Albuquerque police sergeant who writes about law enforcement issues, in an email. "Yet the assistant district attorney and the [circuit] court judge not only approved the warrant…they approved it to be a no-knock warrant executed in the middle of the night!"
Lonita Baker, an attorney representing Taylor's family, notes other discrepancies in Jaynes' warrant applications, including an incorrect description of the car that Taylor was driving at the time and the erroneous attribution of Taylor's cellphone number to Glover. Those mistakes, she told the NBC station in Louisville, reflect "the sloppiness of the entire investigation." Baker said it was "disappointing" that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who investigated the raid itself, did not also look at the justification for the warrant, which Cameron said the FBI is investigating.