Why were police at Breonna Taylor’s home? Here’s what an investigative summary says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A detailed investigative report written more than a month after Louisville Metro Police fatally shot Breonna Taylor in her apartment on March 13 provides the first comprehensive look at the narcotics case that brought officers to her door.

Though police recovered no drugs or cash from the 26-year-old emergency room technician’s apartment in Louisville’s South End, the May 1 police report shows how officers linked Taylor to a narcotics investigation centered 10 miles away — largely through evidence that has since been challenged.

Why police targeted Taylor’s apartment for a “no-knock” search warrant after midnight has been a key question in the case since her shooting became a national rallying cry for racial justice in May.

After police used a battering ram to break open Taylor’s front door, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired a single shot, which police said struck Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the femoral artery.

Mattingly, along with detective Myles Cosgrove and now-fired detective Brett Hankison, returned fire, killing Taylor. An attorney for Walker said Tuesday that a fellow officer more likely shot Mattingly than Walker.

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Police had search warrant for Taylor’s address

Misinformation shared on social media suggested the officers showed up at the wrong house, but police had a search warrant signed by Circuit Judge Mary Shaw for Taylor’s address and for her.

The eight-page LMPD report reinforces, however, that Taylor was not the main target of the narcotics investigation, which initially centered around other individuals accused of selling drugs.

The report’s author was Detective Joshua Jaynes, who secured the March 12 warrant for Taylor’s home and four suspected drug houses.

The report also shows that LMPD’s new Place-Based Investigations Squad spent about 2½ months conducting heavy surveillance.

Taylor was linked to the suspects in that investigation, according to the report, because a car registered in her name stopped in early January at one of the properties being watched.

Moreover, it states that Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer and Taylor’s former boyfriend, picked up a package at her home Jan. 16 while police were watching him.

The report further says: 

  • It was Mattingly, the officer who was shot at Taylor’s apartment, who asked the postal service whether Glover was receiving packages at Taylor’s apartment. Jaynes wrote in a March 12 sworn affidavit for a search warrant that he had verified that Glover was receiving packages at Taylor’s home through a postal inspector (a Louisville postal inspector later told WDRB news that wasn’t true). 

  • Glover listed Taylor’s home as his address on a Chase bank account, and a search warrant for the account was executed on March 19, six days after her death. 

  • Glover listed Taylor’s phone number as his when he filed a complaint against a police officer in February for towing his red Dodge Charger for a parking violation.

Jaynes is on administrative reassignment pending an investigation of “how and why the search warrant was approved,” interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in June.

The May 1 report was co-signed by Detective Kelly Goodlett, another Place-Based Investigations officer who also authored a controversial 39-page LMPD report written after Taylor’s death that detailed her ties with Glover, the main suspect in the narcotics case.

Glover told The Louisville Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, in an Aug. 26 interview that Taylor had nothing to do with illicit drugs. He also denied that Taylor had been holding money for him, despite telling a caller that she was during a taped phone conversation March 13 at Metro Corrections.

Police suspected, according to the May report written by Jaynes, that Glover “may be keeping narcotics and/or proceeds from the sale of narcotics at (Taylor’s apartment) for safekeeping.”

 A property seizure log completed after searching Taylor’s apartment following the shooting listed no drugs or money.

The report also reflects that the investigation into suspected narcotics trafficking continued beyond the execution of search warrants and Taylor’s death on March 13. 

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Interest in ‘epicenter’ of drugs

The Place-Based Investigations Squad, a unit created in late December 2019 to focus on small areas “ridden with violent crime,” turned its attention first to an area between South 26th Street and West Broadway, including Elliott Avenue, according to Jaynes. 

Detectives gathered calls for service, incident reports and drug crime tips, learning that First Division officers had conducted narcotics searches in December 2019 on three residences.

Officer Charles Heller wrote in three Dec. 30 search warrant affidavits that a confidential informant had reported people selling crack cocaine from 2424 Elliott Ave. in the last 48 hours, and the driver of a vehicle stopped by police had reported people were also using 2605 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. for the drug sales. 

The warrants gave police authority to search Glover, along with Dominique Crenshaw, De’Marius Bowman and Cleve Knight. 

A judge whose signature isn’t legible signed all three warrants and authorized police’s “no-knock” request.

Heller wrote that it was important the warrants be “no-knock” search warrants because “it is common for drug traffickers to protect their drugs with guns” and that the criminal history of known associates created a “particularly dangerous situation.” 

“It was determined,” Jaynes wrote, “that the epicenter of the narcotics trafficking in the area was 2424 Elliott Ave.” 

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Following that decision, officers kicked off weeks of surveillance: Installing a police camera, following vehicles and conducting pedestrian and traffic stops. 

In the weeks before the search warrants were executed March 13, a confidential informant working with police went to Elliott Avenue and confirmed narcotics were being sold there, according to the investigative summary from Jaynes. 

Why was Breonna Taylor part of the investigation?

Taylor isn’t referenced much in the report, but here’s what police do say: 

  • On Jan. 2, a pole camera installed at South 24th Street and Elliott Avenue captured footage of a white Chevrolet Impala registered to Taylor pull up in front of 2424 Elliott Ave. The camera footage showed Glover exiting from the passenger side.

  • A red Dodge Charger that police say was used by both Glover and Adrian Walker, a co-defendant, made “frequent trips” between Elliott Avenue and Springfield Drive, where Taylor lived, according to “physical and electronic surveillance,” Jaynes wrote.

  • On Jan. 16, Glover was photographed by police entering Taylor’s apartment and left with a “suspected USPS package.” He then drove to 2605 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., which Jaynes described in the search warrant affidavit as a “known drug house.” 

Glover has since disputed some of that surveillance evidence

He told The Courier Journal in an Aug. 26 interview he’d worried about deliveries to his house being stolen, and Taylor had agreed to have the items sent to her apartment instead.

“Nothing even been illegal there,” he said. “Getting shoes and clothes coming through the mail is not illegal. Nothing illegal at all.”

Glover also noted that LMPD had a surveillance camera outside of 2424 Elliott Ave., so he said police knew Taylor wasn’t doing anything illegal when she came over.

“We’re literally standing outside,” Glover said. “They had their camera. … They seen everything. No illegal activity. A hug is not illegal. … She’s not bringing me no boxes, she’s not bringing nothing.”

The leaked LMPD report detailing the links between Taylor and Glover referenced recorded jail calls, including one made hours after her fatal police shooting, in which Glover tells his girlfriend Kiera Bradley that Taylor was holding $8,000 for him and she had been “handling all my money.” 

Bradley told The Courier Journal in an Aug. 31 interview that she thought their heated conversation prompted Glover to say that. 

“I think he was just saying that because he had a bond. I’m like, ‘Where is your money?’ I was upset. You can look at the calls, I was talking about my daughter … You know, it was an argument. I think that he was just like, she had all my money because he had a bond,” Bradley said. 

No evidence of Taylor holding money for Glover is included in Jaynes’ May report, but it notes that a search warrant on Glover’s Chase bank account, approved by a judge six days after Taylor’s death, shows that Glover listed his residence as Taylor’s apartment on Springfield Drive, Jaynes wrote.

(The criminal discovery file for Glover’s pending case includes a Chase Bank record obtained by police, apparently through a Feb. 6 grand jury subpoena, that lists Glover’s address as Taylor’s apartment on Springfield Drive.)

Records reviewed by The Courier Journal show police also had signed search warrants for phone numbers connected to Glover that would have allowed them to review information on calls and locations.

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The March 12 search warrant affidavits and May 1 report don’t list any evidence obtained from that effort.

However, one of the phone numbers tracked, documents show, was Taylor’s.

Police sought a search warrant for her phone number on Feb. 17, after Glover “attempted to file a complaint” three days earlier against an officer who had towed his Dodge Charger for a parking violation, Jaynes wrote. Glover provided a phone number registered to Taylor. 

The warrant, signed and sealed Feb. 17 by Jefferson Circuit Judge Charles Cunningham, allowed police to access all text messages, call details, cell tower locations and detailed subscriber information “that will be valuable to the investigation” for a 30-day period.  

Jaynes wrote that he “has received information that Breonna Taylor may be the suspected girlfriend of Jamarcus Glover” and “it is not uncommon for drug traffickers to use phone numbers under different names to avoid detection from law enforcement.”

Jaynes added the “phone ping” would allow police to look into Glover’s “criminal enterprise” and potentially find “other locations that will help the investigation” because police had “exhausted conventional means of surveillance.” 

Nothing indicates when police executed that warrant. 

On Feb. 21, four days after obtaining the first warrant, Jaynes got an additional sealed search warrant for a Cingular Wireless phone number police believed belonged to Glover. That warrant also doesn’t note when it was executed.

The discovery file for Glover’s pending criminal case additionally includes a background check of Taylor dated May 18 — more than two months after her death. 

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After March 13, detectives watched pedestrian and vehicle traffic through the pole camera at Elliott Avenue, which they said indicated narcotics trafficking continued. 

“Although the traffic isn’t as heavy as it was before, it is apparent that these individuals are still selling narcotics from this location,” Jaynes wrote. 

Over the next few weeks, detectives conducted at least three traffic stops on vehicles leaving the Elliott Avenue home — once for failing to wear seat belts and another for an improper turn — and found drugs in the vehicles. 

One of those traffic stops prompted Goodlett to write an April 8 note to the city’s public nuisance and Metro 311 email accounts, documenting the property’s latest infraction — it’s “strike 3.”

City documents show that Goodlett and the Place-Based Initiative officers had worked closely with city Codes and Regulations Department personnel for months to keep tabs on the Elliott Avenue house.

On Jan. 22, the property owner, Law Mar Inc. and Gerald Happle, received its first notice of criminal activity “constituting a public nuisance.”

On March 17, following the March 13 warrants, the property was formally deemed a public nuisance.

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Happle called the next day to ask about donating the house.

The city gave Happle an order to vacate the home on April 13. By then, Happle already had given his renters notice to leave the home and signed an application to donate the house to the city.

On April 22, detectives executed another no-knock search warrant on 2424 Elliott Ave. — the third in five months.

Police found crack cocaine, suspected ecstasy or MDMA, marijuana and other drug paraphernalia, Jaynes wrote. 

The same day, with the aid of the city’s Codes and Regulations Department, police cleared and boarded up 2424 Elliott Ave. 

On June 5 — what would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday — Happle signed over the deed on the house. The city paid $1.

Contributing: Phillip Bailey, USA TODAY.

Follow reporters Darcy Costello ( @dctello) and Tessa Duvall (@TessaDuvall) on Twitter:

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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Breonna Taylor case: Report details why police wanted to search home