At around 1am on March 13, 2020, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker, awoke to the sound of an individual or individuals attempting to break in through the door of their home in Southwest Jefferson County, Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Walker grabbed his gun, ready to defend himself and Breonna and soon found himself wounding a Louisville Metro officer, shooting him in the leg. Officers open fired blindly into the apartment shooting Breonna at least eight times. She died at the scene as a result of her injuries.
The Louisville police had a no-knock warrant in their possession, meaning they could use force to enter the home. Although Officers in possession of a no-knock warrant are not obligated to identify themselves before forcing entry into a property the officers claimed that they did knock and identified themselves before breaking in, announcing the situation multiple times, however it was 1am and Mr. Walker said that both he and Ms.Taylor were both sleeping and completely unaware of what was happening. Walker maintained that the police did not identify themselves and neighbors at the complex said the same. Walker said that he awoke to what he believed was a break in and used his firearm, which he was licensed to own, in self-defence.
“Who is it?” Breonna asked multiple times, but according to Kenneth Walker, she received no answer.
During the shooting Walker made a 911 call where he told the dispatcher: “someone kicked the door in and tried to kill my girlfriend”.
There is no bodycam recording of the events and the police reports submitted afterwards has been described as almost blank, with no mention of Breonna’s death. The police were wearing plain clothes and were in an unmarked vehicle. The young African American couple were not aware that the police were there to search the premises looking for drugs, nor did they have any idea that the men breaking into the home were officers. They were likely confused waking to the banging of the battering ram against their door and even further perplexed by the sudden chaos of officers in street clothes forcing their way into the residence.
The police were actively investigating two men involved in a narcotics case, Jamarcus Glover and Adrian Walker, who lived on Elliot Avenue, 10 miles from Breonna Taylor’s home. Officers had a warrant to search Taylor’s residence because they believed the suspects had been sending packages to her Southwest Jefferson County home. They found no drugs during their search and Taylor, who was an emergency room tech at the University of Louisville health and an aspiring nurse with dreams of buying her own home and raising a family of her own, was killed in cold blood and shot at least eight times by LMPD officers. Taylor had no criminal history and had a job in a field focused entirely on saving lives before hers was unjustly taken from her on March 13.
Descriptions of the event provided by walker as well as later analysis of the scene showed that the LMPD officers fired indiscriminately into Taylor’s home. Evidence showed that their bullets had ripped through almost all the rooms with no regard for anyone who could have been inside. Shots were even shown to have been fired from outside the home through windows with closed blinds and curtains, indicating that officers had fired with little or no visuals into the property with no regard.
The detective working the narcotics case, Detective Joshua Jaynes, claims that Breonna Taylor’s house was one of several identified in the investigation due to a sighting of one of the main suspects, Jamarcus Glover, who was spotted picking up a package from the address a few months before. Investigators believed that Glover was either receiving drugs or keeping money obtained from selling drugs at Breonna’s house, as he was followed and seen taking the package to the house on Elliot Avenue, a “known drug house”. Jamarcus Glover was arrested just a short time before officers forced their way into Taylor’s home on the night of the 13th.
They defended their use of the no-knock warrant implying that the element of surprise was important when it came to searching addresses connected to drug-trafficking situations as it meant anyone inside would not have time to destroy evidence.
Breonna Taylor and Jamarcus Glover did have a connection, they dated two years before her murder. The two were no longer an item and Breonna had since moved on, but she and Glover remained civil with each other. Despite Kenneth Walker and Adrian Walker sharing the same surname, they are not related to one another.
Following the evets of March 13, 2020, Kenneth Walker was charged with the attempted murder of an officer. The charges were later dismissed.
Officer Brett Hankinson was fired from his position and Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove are, at the time of writing this, on administrative leave. Detective Joshua Jaynes, the officer who requested the no knock warrants has been temporarily reassigned. There has, currently, been no criminal charges in the death of Breonna Taylor.
According to various media outlets reporting on the shooting, Hankinson had a history of misconduct as well as sexual harassment allegations against him.
In reaction to Breonna Taylor’s death, the Louisville city council voted against no-knock warrants and passed “Breonna’s law” requiring all officers serving warrants to have body camera’s rolling before and after all interactions.