| Louisville Courier Journal
Breonna Taylor: Indictment announcement sparks protests in Louisville
Protests resumed in Louisville after a grand jury indicted one of the three police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Almost as quickly as the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor become an international story and trending topic on social media, so did the misinformation about her life and death.
The Louisville Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, has been tracking Taylor’s case and monitoring related social media posts since her March 13 slaying. Our reporters have gathered the facts based on public records, official statements and interviews with witnesses and people close to the case.
We’ve also collected some of the most prominent misconceptions and falsehoods posted on social media about the case to set the record straight.
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Here are the facts:
The facts: What happened at Breonna Taylor’s apartment
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician at both Jewish and Norton hospitals, was inside her South End apartment when she was fatally shot by three plainclothes officers attempting to serve a no-knock search warrant at 12:40 a.m. March 13 as a part of a narcotics investigation.
Court records show that Louisville police obtained a warrant with a no-knock provision for Taylor’s apartment approved by Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw, though police and prosecutors have said that the officers knocked and announced themselves before breaking down the door.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has said he heard pounding at the door, but he did not hear anyone announce they were police. He fired one shot at 12:43 a.m., according to his arrest citation, thinking intruders were breaking in.
According to officials, Walker’s bullet struck Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg, requiring surgery. Mattingly and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove returned fire, shooting more than 20 rounds.
Taylor was struck multiple times and died in the hallway of her apartment, attorneys for her family say. The coroner’s office listed her time of death as 12:48 a.m.
Walker wasn’t wounded.
Those same attorneys say neighbors did not hear police announce themselves before entering.
A subsequent search of Taylor’s apartment found no drugs.
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Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison were all placed on administrative reassignment pending the results of the investigation into Taylor’s death. The Louisville police department has since fired Hankison, who was accused by interim police Chief Robert Schroeder of “blindly” firing 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment.
“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Schroeder wrote in a letter to Hankison laying out the charges against him. “I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion.”
After four months of investigation, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his team of prosecutors presented their case to a grand jury. In turn, the grand jurors indicted Hankison alone on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for shots that went into a neighbor’s apartment where three people were home.
The FBI investigation remains ongoing.
Detective Joshua Jaynes, who obtained the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, has also been reassigned by the department’s leadership.
Shaw has refused to address the case and her decision to sign the search warrant with The Courier Journal, but she has since told The New York Times she “asked needed questions of the officer, reviewed the affidavits prepared for each warrant and subsequently made the probable-cause determination required of me by law.”
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Claim: Police were at the wrong apartment
Various Facebook and Twitter posts have claimed that Louisville police went to the wrong apartment the night of Taylor’s death when they served the no-knock warrant.
Ben Crump, a Florida-based attorney involved with the Taylor case, wrote on Twitter on May 11 that police “had the wrong address AND their real suspect was already in custody.”
The Courier Journal obtained copies of five search warrants Louisville police received March 12 as part of a narcotics investigation.
One was for Taylor’s apartment, three were for adjacent homes on Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood and one was for a house on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The Muhammad Ali Boulevard warrant was not executed, although the reason hasn’t been made public.
The search warrant for Taylor’s home includes her street address, apartment number and photos of her apartment door, which police later broke using a battering ram.
Taylor’s name, birth date and social security number are listed on the warrant, alongside the names of the narcotics investigation’s main targets, Jamarcus Glover and Adrian Walker.
Adrian Walker and Kenneth Walker are not related.
In the affidavit for the search warrant, Jaynes wrote that he’d seen Glover get a package from Taylor’s home and that he used Taylor’s address as his own on documents.
Our rating: False
The search warrant for Taylor and her home explicitly identified her and her address. The Louisville police were not there by mistake. They believed that Taylor had ties to Glover, one of the main suspects in the investigation.
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Claim: Police located their main suspect before going to Taylor’s home
Several Twitter and Facebook posts have maintained that Glover, one of the main targets in Louisville police’s narcotics investigation, already was in jail before officers executed the March 13 search warrant at Taylor’s apartment.
In a lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court in April against the three Louisville police officers who fired their weapons by Taylor’s family, attorneys also argue that, “Glover was located and identified by LMPD prior to the warrant being executed at Breonna’s home.”
In an additional filing in early July, the attorneys alleged that police actually converged on Glover’s house on Elliott Avenue around midnight — well before police entered Taylor’s apartment.
The Taylor family’s contention is that police had no need to execute the warrant at her apartment that resulted in her death since they already had located their main target.
In a recorded statement to investigators, Mattingly said police executed the warrant at Taylor’s apartment at the same time as the home on Elliott Avenue. Mattingly said the warrant for her apartment was secured as a no-knock, but he was told to knock and announce.
Taylor’s apartment was considered a “soft target” with minimal threats.
“They said they did not believe she had children or animals, but they weren’t sure,” Mattingly said. “Said she should be there alone because they knew where their target was.”
Taylor’s name was listed on the search warrant for her home, along with Glover’s name.
According to court records obtained by The Courier Journal, police executed the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment at 12:40 a.m. March 13.
Police also executed a search warrant about 10 miles from Taylor’s home at a reported drug house on Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood, records show. There, police found Glover and charged him.
Glover’s arrest citation lists the time of his offense at 12:40 a.m., the same time the search warrant was executed. But his arrest was listed at 2:43 a.m. March 13, more than two hours later.
In the amended complaint, Aguiar says police initially recorded the time for the search and Glover’s arrest as midnight, then later altered the record to add 40 minutes — matching the search time for Taylor’s apartment.
Police Officer Kelly Hanna Goodlett “originally identifies the Elliott search time at ’12’ on the warrant execution form, only to subsequently add a faint ’40’ later on to give the impression entry was made around the same time as entry to Breonna’s,” Aguiar wrote in the document.
A copy of the seized property log turned in to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office after the March 13 search shows the original time of search scratched out and replaced with “0040” on both pages of the document.
The time of the first item seized is logged as 0120.
In a March 16 email, Goodlett wrote that the Elliott Avenue warrants were carried out at “approximately 0015 hours,” or 12:15 a.m. on March 13. Additionally, a K-9 report from Elliott Avenue that night indicates the dog began the search at 12:25 a.m.
Glover told The Courier Journal/USA TODAY that he learned Taylor had died while he was handcuffed outside the Elliott Avenue house and overheard officers and dispatchers on a police radio saying shots had been fired at her apartment address.
Our rating: Likely true
Police documents offer conflicting accounts of whether officers executed the search warrants simultaneously at Elliott Avenue and at Taylor’s apartment.
But even if Glover was not in custody before officers forced their way into Taylor’s home, based on statements by Mattingly, police still likely knew where he was at that time, as attorneys for Taylor’s family assert.
Claim: Taylor was shot while she was asleep in bed
Various social media posts and media reports have said Louisville police gunned down Taylor as she was asleep in bed.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine played partial recordings of police interviews with Walker during a May 22 news conference in which Walker told police that he and Taylor were watching a movie in bed — it was “watching them more than we were watching it,” he said — when they heard a loud bang at the door, scaring both of them.
Walker said he initially thought it might’ve been Taylor’s former boyfriend, but there was no response when Taylor twice called out, “Who is it?”
Then, Walker said he grabbed his gun (it was registered to Walker) saying he was, “Scared to death.”
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Taylor yelled again “at the top of her lungs,” asking who it was, Walker said in the recording. He said he was asking, too.
They got out of bed and were going toward the door when it “comes off its hinges.” Walker fired one shot, unable to see who he was shooting at, he told police.
Police fired in response, striking Taylor multiple times, according to her family’s lawsuit against Louisville police.
Our rating: False
Taylor and Kenneth Walker were in bed when they heard the banging on the apartment door at approximately 12:40 a.m., according to statements Walker made to police.
But they got out of bed before police entered, and Taylor died on her hallway floor.
Claim: Taylor was living with a drug dealer
Several social media posts have accused Taylor of living with a drug dealer, insinuating that is why police had targeted her place for a search warrant in their narcotics investigation.
Taylor shared her apartment with her younger sister, Juniyah Palmer. Neither Taylor nor Palmer have any history of drug offenses.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, did not live in the apartment, according to the address listed on his arrest citation. He also has no history of drug offenses, and Walker was not named in the search warrant.
Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Taylor’s family, said Taylor had dated Glover, one of the police’s main suspects, two years earlier and that they maintained a “passive friendship.”
However, records and recorded jail calls show that Glover and Taylor were in more recent contact, though Glover said in a March 13 call that he didn’t have “nothing going on with Bre no more.”
According to the affidavit detective Jaynes wrote for the search warrant, Glover used Taylor’s apartment as his home address.
Jaynes also wrote that he “verified through a U.S. postal inspector that Jamarcus Glover has been receiving packages” at Taylor’s apartment.
But Louisville’s U.S. postal inspector, Tony Gooden, told WDRB News in May that a different agency (which he did not identify) had asked in January to look into whether Taylor’s home was receiving suspicious mail. The office had concluded that the apartment was not, Gooden said.
Glover has since told The Courier Journal and USA TODAY that Taylor had no involvement in drug trafficking. Glover said he only had clothes and shoes sent to Taylor’s apartment because he was afraid they would be stolen if they were left at Elliott Avenue.
Our rating: False
Neither Taylor nor Kenneth Walker has any drug offenses on their records.
Additionally, though Taylor and Glover once dated, Glover said they were no longer in touch before her death. There is no evidence Glover was living in Taylor’s apartment.
Claim: Body-camera footage exists in Taylor’s shooting death
Aguiar and Lonita Baker, attorneys for Taylor’s family, say more than 120 officers eventually were dispatched to Taylor’s South End apartment on Springfield Drive in the early morning hours of March 13.
Despite that, no body-camera footage has been released, they wrote in a wide-ranging court filing on June 9.
Hours after the shooting, then-Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad told news media there was no body-camera footage to share from the shooting.
“This incident was related to the execution of a search warrant by members of our Criminal Interdiction Division, and some of the officers assigned to this division do not wear body-worn video systems,” he said at a March 13 news conference.
Neither Mattingly, Hankison nor Cosgrove were wearing body cameras, officials have said.
Cameron, in his Sept. 23 news conference, confirmed what Conrad said months earlier: There is “no video or body camera footage of the officers’ attempted execution of a search warrant.”
Video footage doesn’t begin until patrol officers arrive on scene, he said.
Our rating: False
Conrad said that Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove were not wearing body cameras when they fired into Taylor’s apartment and killed her, and Cameron confirmed.
However, other officers at the scene following the shooting had operating body cameras and captured video of the aftermath.
Claim: The officer who was shot was hit by friendly fire
The claim gained traction after national criminal justice reform activist Shaun King tweeted May 14 that, “It is now believed that the police officer who got shot in the leg in the shooting of Breonna Taylor was shot by ‘friendly fire’ from his own officers.
“His partners were haphazardly emptying their clips … They shot him.”
King, a New York-based activist originally from Kentucky, has more than 1.1 million followers on Twitter and more than 2.1 million on Facebook.
Wine, the commonwealth’s attorney, said at his May 22 news conference that Mattingly was shot by Kenneth Walker, who fired from inside the apartment.
The bullet struck Mattingly’s femoral artery after piercing his wallet, which he kept in his left, front pocket, Wine said. Even so, Mattingly nearly bled to death, he said.
“This was not something that they were trying to sweep under the rug,” Wine said.
But on Sept. 1, Steve Romines, an attorney representing Walker in a civil suit against the city, said his review of the evidence indicates Mattingly was struck by friendly fire.
“We know police are firing wildly from various angles,” Romines said. “The timeline and evidence at the scene is more indicative of (police) actually shooting Mattingly than it is Kenny Walker.”
Ultimately, Cameron quashed Romines’ theory, saying Mattingly was struck by a 9 mm round; officers on scene all carried .40 caliber handguns.
Our rating: False
In police interviews and through his attorney, Walker has not disputed firing one round inside the apartment at what he said he thought were intruders.
Despite claims Mattingly was hit by friendly fire, the sergeant was struck by 9 mm round, which none of his colleagues’ guns could have fired.
Claim: Taylor works as an EMT
On May 11, Crump, who has represented several high-profile clients around the country in police shootings, issued a news release saying he was joining the case of an “EMT killed in a bungled police raid.”
Several local and national media outlets, including The Courier Journal, also have reported that Taylor was an emergency medical technician.
Our rating: Partially true
Taylor joined the city as an EMT recruit in January 2016, became a full EMT by June and left the Metro Government in November 2016.
Local attorneys for Taylor’s family have clarified that she was working as an ER technician at two area hospitals at the time of her March 13 death, with aspirations of becoming a nurse.
Claim: Taylor was shot eight times by police
In the civil lawsuit filed in April against the LMPD officers who fired their weapons and killed Taylor, attorneys for her family wrote that she was “shot at least eight times by the officers’ gunfire and died as a result.”
Since then, it has been widely reported, including in The Courier Journal, that Taylor was shot eight times.
Neither ballistics reports nor Taylor’s autopsy have been released publicly, but Taylor’s death certificate from the state Registrar of Vital Statistics has been released. It lists her cause of death as “multiple (5) gunshot wounds of the body.”
On Wednesday, Cameron said the investigation shows Taylor was shot six times. He noted the sixth “projectile” was lodged in one of Taylor’s feet.
A Kentucky State Police analysis “did not identify” which of the three officers fired the fatal shot, but the FBI crime lab concluded it came from Cosgrove. Cameron said this creates a “reasonable doubt” of who fired the fatal shot.
Cameron noted there was “nothing conclusive to say” that any of Hankison’s 10 shots hit Taylor.
Our rating: False
Taylor’s official cause of death, as determined by the investigation, was six gunshot wounds to the body.
Follow reporter Tessa Duvall on Twitter: @TessaDuvall.