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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Staff writer offers thoughts on Breonna Taylor's death and resulting trial

WED. | 10-14-20 | OPINION

     Breonna Taylor was only 26 years old when she was fatally shot in her apartment on Friday, Mar. 13, 2020. Exactly six months after Taylor’s shooting, a court trial was held for the accused officers: Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly. The Grand Jury members in Louisville, Kentucky had to rely on Republican General Attorney (GA) Daniel Cameron to reach a verdict. According to HowStuffWorks’ writer Sarah Wrinkler, GAs examine alleged violations of federal laws, and this applies in Taylor’s case because of a suspected breaking of policies, such as shooting through closed blinds, and a falsely made warrant. I think that GA Cameron used blatantly incorrect words when talking about the evidence, and it was full of contradictions. 

     According to the courts and witness affidavits, the story goes that police


Graphic by Liv Stewart

had shown up at Taylor’s apartment with a no-knock warrant — a warrant given by a judge to police officers to allow them to enter into someone’s home without knocking or ringing a doorbell. The officers had knocked anyway and announced themselves at the door before busting in at 12:40am. One neighbor said that they heard an announcement, and it was possible that Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, did not hear it because they were asleep. 

     Taylor and Walker were awakened, and Walker grabbed his 9mm pistol and shot at the officers, hitting Mattingly in the thigh and causing him to require surgery later. As a result of this, officers Cosgrove and Mattingly shot back 32 times, not hitting Walker. Officer Hankison, who was coming up on the patio began shooting through the closed blinds, and some bullets went through to the living room. Taylor was already making her way down the hallway when she was then shot five times: her left thigh, right ankle, upper left arm, and twice in her torso hitting a main pulmonary artery. The autopsy was done by Louisville doctor Jeffrey Springer.

     A ballistics report was able to show that the fatal shots could be linked to Cosgrove’s gun. I can understand a police officer shooting back at someone who was shooting at them, but I feel like it should be a requirement to know where they’re aiming. They also shouldn’t be shooting multiple times unless the assailant continues to shoot back. The officers should’ve had better control of their guns. This is so that they didn’t endanger any neighbors, and if they did hit Taylor, it wouldn’t have been fatal.

     Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder and first degree assault while the officers weren’t charged at all. This doesn’t make sense to me because it seems like both were startled and fought back out of self-defense. Why charge one party and not the other? According to New York Times writer Rukmini Callimachi, Walker shot back out of fear that it was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend.  According to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR), officers can be protected from being prosecuted if they were doing their duty. Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment — when someone puts others around them in a dangerous scenario that could be fatal. When Hankison shot through the patio door, a lot of the shots went through other homes. Later, all charges were dropped.

     Detective Joshua Jaynes who had initially obtained the warrant was reassigned by Louisville Police’s leadership. I feel that he should’ve been demoted because it seems like he didn’t judge the situation correctly. 

     Why was Taylor’s home even raided to begin with? According to Courier Journal writer Tessa Duvall, Taylor’s name was listed for a warrant next to main target, Jamarcus Glover. Glover lived on the same street as Taylor, and he was her ex-boyfriend. According to Washington Post writer Radley Balko, Taylor’s former relationship with Glover had been unhealthy. He was in and out of jail, and Taylor would always pay for his bail. Glover told the New York Times that he dated Taylor in 2016, and the couple had broken up in January 2020.

     However, Glover and Taylor’s relationship still doesn’t answer why her home was raided. Glover had said that she owed him money by saying “Bre been having all my money,” but Taylor did not owe him money for drugs. Glover admitted that Taylor was not a drug user and never was one, and the autopsy showed there were no drugs in her system after the day of her death. So, why did she even have a warrant out for her? I believe that there was a lack of communication amongst the police, and Taylor had sadly gotten involved with the wrong people. However, this shouldn’t have resulted in her life being taken. 

     I understand the situation was scary for both the police, Taylor and Walker. Walker told the New York Times that he shot at them because he thought that Glover was breaking in. 

     “I am a legal gun owner and I would never knowingly shoot a police officer,” Walker told Louisville News station WAHS 11. As for the police officers, I can understand that getting shot at can scare you, and out of instinct, you shoot back. I think that both the police and Walker were startled and were just trying to protect themselves. 

     I feel that the main people at fault are Detective Jaynes and Glover. Because of her ex-boyfriend, Taylor was put on a warrant list that she didn’t need to be on, all because Glover wanted money out of her. Glover told the New York Times that Taylor should be alive today. I don’t think he wants her alive because he misses her — he just wants money out of her. 

     Jaynes is also at fault for making assumptions that led to a warrant being accepted. As said by Charles L. Cunningham of Courier Journal, Judge Mary Shaw who approved the no-knock warrant was said to have spent twelve minutes on paperwork that was riddled with “falsehoods and misstatements.” Jaynes requested the warrant with only video surveillance of Taylor at Glover's house and an eye-witness of Glover taking packages from her porch.

      Shaw, however, is not to blame because she was simply doing her job as a judge. When Courier Journal talks about “falsehoods and misstatements,” it means that Jaynes had manufactured portions of his evidence. Shaw saw these misstatements thinking that they were legit  and signed off on them because she felt that they were appropriate for a no-knock warrant. According to Cunningham, when you get a judge to sign a warrant for you, you don’t just pick any judge. It takes a lot of time to find one who will read over your information and decide if it is appropriate to have the kind of warrant that you are requesting. All we know, so far, is that Shaw was not the only judge that Jaynes consulted, but it is unknown who the others were. Cunningham mentions how sharing false information is against protocol. According to Conan Daily, Jaynes was searching for a judge who would approve five warrants on Taylor, but only one of which was a no-knock. The others were still unknown, but according to USAToday, he was planning on acting on these warrants without permission, but the plans were cancelled. Shaw approved the no-knock warrant and signed over six pages of paperwork to have it finalized. 

     According to Courier Journal writer Darcy Costello, Shaw was concerned that Jaynes had been lying to obtain the warrant. Jaynes had told investigators that after seeing Glover take packages off Taylor's porch, he told Mattingly to go to postal inspectors to see what was in the packages. They said that the packages were delivered to Taylor's address with Glover's name on them, but they did not contain any narcotics. This was before Jaynes had tried to request any warrants. 

     Usually, police are given no-knock warrants for drug busts, mainly so they can catch drug dealers and addicts in the act. If police were to knock on the door and announce themselves, it gives the person they’re looking for time to run away or dispose of evidence. If they just enter, there is a chance that they can catch their targets and be eyewitnesses to a crime. 

     Now, the talk on if drugs like weed should be legalized or not is for another time, but when something is illegal, morally, you have to admit that you did something wrong when you get caught. Taylor was no drug user and she didn’t commit a crime, but because of Glover, the police were convinced that she was doing drugs along with him. To make matters worse, her name was on all of his bails, so it is undeniable that they were affiliated with one another. 

     Glover’s association with Taylor led to unintentionally fed misinformation to the police by being in places with her and allowed them to hypothesize her involvement. Jaynes' misleading and false evidence had caused problems amongst the Louisville police. Luckily for Walker, all charges against him have been dropped, but unfortunately for Taylor, what happened was set in motion by her associations and police assumptions that led to the adrenaline-fused incident that cost her her life. The death of Breonna Taylor is a tragedy for her family and friends. It has been enough to spark outrage across the country, and people are demanding justice. Moving forward, I feel that we need to initiate steps toward peace with one another because everyone is equal, and we shouldn’t stereotype based on race and past associations with toxic people.

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