‘Deeply reckless’: Critics slam leaked police memo about Breonna Taylor

'Deeply reckless': Critics slam leaked police memo about Breonna Taylor

A leaked Louisville Metro Police Department memo shows investigators had more evidence than previously made public showing a connection between Breonna Taylor and the main target of the narcotics probe that led officers to barge into her home the night she was shot dead by police.

But the memo was written several weeks after Taylor’s death and includes details that weren’t provided to the judge in the search warrant application as well as evidence that came to light after her death —prompting critics to slam it as an effort to smear Taylor and justify the deadly police raid.

The leaked memo, obtained by NBC News, addresses why the officers sought a warrant to enter Taylor’s apartment but says nothing about the use of force or other possible violations of Louisville police department policy, such as the blind firing of bullets into neighboring apartments.

“Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy. Period,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who called the leak an effort to “sway opinion and impact the investigation.”

“It is deeply reckless for this information, which presents only a small fraction of the entire investigation, to be shared with the media while the criminal process remains ongoing,” Fischer added.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was killed after midnight on March 13 when officers broke down her door while executing a search warrant.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot at the front door, striking one officer. He said he believed it was a home invasion. Police opened fire, hitting Taylor five times.

Both the FBI and the Kentucky attorney general are investigating the shooting.

Taylor, who had no criminal record, knew the target of the narcotics probe, Jamarcus Glover, as far back as 2016 when she was in her early 20s, according to the leaked police memo written by a detective.

The 39-page memo contains new information including that Taylor posted Glover’s bond after he was arrested in 2017. When he was arrested again in January 2020, the memo shows, he called Taylor at least three times from jail. In one call, Taylor told Glover that it’s stressful for her when he’s around because of his interactions with the police.

When Glover’s car was towed in mid-February, he filed a complaint against a police officer and used Taylor’s phone number as his point of contact, according to the memo.

Taylor was killed one month later.

The undated memo, first reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal, includes information from a May news memo, indicating the police document wasn’t finalized until at least two months after the fatal shooting.

“At a time when the public was being assured that the department was doing a thorough and impartial investigation into Breonna’s killing, [the department] was actually preparing a lengthy, one-sided report regarding things that their officers were unaware of at the time they killed Breonna,” said Taylor’s family lawyer Sam Aguiar.

At a press conference last week, Louisville Metro Police Department Interim Chief Robert Schroeder called the leak “simply not helpful” to the investigation and “irrelevant to our goal of obtaining justice, peace and healing for our community.”

The police department did not respond to a question about why the memo was written.

Questions have been raised as to whether or not the warrant used to go to Taylor’s apartment was valid. The memo indicates police had more information tying Taylor and Glover together than police presented to the court.

Breonna Taylor. (Family photo)
Breonna Taylor. (Family photo)

But legal experts said that the leaked document does not answer key questions that have swirled around the case: whether police announced who they were when they entered the apartment, whether the use of force was appropriate and whether there were other violations of police department policy.

Christopher Slobogin, director of the criminal justice program at Vanderbilt Law School, said those questions are crucial to the investigation.

“You need probable cause to get a warrant to get into a house — that doesn’t mean you’re set,” Slobogin said.

“You still need to execute a warrant properly,” he added. “You still have to knock and announce, or announce and avoid using excessive force.”

Alan Rozenshtein, associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said the police practice of knocking on doors and announcing themselves has a long history dating back to English common law.

“Homes are sacred spaces. We want to give people a measure of dignity. Also it is to give everyone a moment to calm down,” said Rozenshtein, a constitutional law expert.

Rozenshtein said the police may want to maintain an element of surprise in certain cases, if they are looking for evidence that might be destroyed or believe delay could pose risks to safety. But Rozenshtein said they should still announce themselves — for their own safety and that of others.

“Knocking without announcing is not helpful,” he said.

New information in the leaked memo includes transcripts of jailhouse phone calls between Glover and the mother of his child that took place after Taylor was killed.

In one call, Glover indicates Taylor may have held money for him.

“Bre got down like $15 (grand), she had the $8 (grand) I gave her the other day and she picked up another $6 grand,” Glover told the mother of his child, according to the transcript in the memo.

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The police found no drugs or money inside Taylor’s apartment, according to the search warrant inventory document obtained by NBC News.

In an interview with the Courier-Journal last week, Glover denied that Taylor ever held money for him.

Glover’s attorney Scott Barton told NBC News that his client has long maintained that “Breonna Taylor had nothing to do with any drug transactions.”

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