LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Breonna Taylor's shooting was the result of a police department operation to clear out a block that was part of a major gentrification makeover, according to attorneys representing the slain 26-year-old's family.
Lawyers for Taylor's family allege in court documents filed Sunday that a police squad – named Place-Based Investigations – "deliberately misled" narcotics detectives to target a home on Elliott Avenue, leading them to believe they were after some of the city's largest violent crime and drug rings.
The complaint – which amends a lawsuit filed by Taylor's mother against the three officers who fired their weapons into Taylor's home – claims Taylor was caught up in a case that was less about a drug house and more about speeding up the city's multimillion-dollar Vision Russell development plan.
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"The execution of this search warrant robbed Breonna of her life and Tamika Palmer of her daughter," Florida-based attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the family, told the Louisville Courier-Journal, part the USA TODAY Network. "Its execution exhibited outrageous recklessness and willful, wanton, unprecedented and unlawful conduct."
Mayor Greg Fischer's top economic development official called the accusations “a gross mischaracterization of the project."
"The work along Elliott Ave is one small piece of the larger Russell neighborhood revitalization and stabilization work we’ve been doing for years, including the transformation of Beecher Terrace through Choice neighborhoods grants," Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, Louisville Forward chief said in a statement.
Louisville Metro Police did not respond to the Courier-Journal's requests for comment Sunday night.
Accusations in lawsuits do not constitute evidence in a court of law and represent only one side of an argument.
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The warrants carried out in the narcotics investigation March 13 were meant to target one of the "primary roadblocks" to the development, a man named Jamarcus Glover, according to the complaint.
Glover rented a home in the area of the planned redevelopment.
Glover is an ex-boyfriend of Taylor, who maintained a "passive" friendship, according to Sam Aguiar, one of the attorneys.
In the affidavit seeking the no-knock search warrant for Taylor's apartment, Detective Joshua Jaynes wrote that he had seen Glover leave Taylor's apartment in January with a USPS package before driving to a "known drug house."
The detective wrote he verified "through a US Postal Inspector" that Glover had received packages at Taylor's address.
A U.S. postal inspector in Louisville told WDRB News that LMPD didn't use his office to verify that Glover got packages at Taylor's apartment and that a different agency asked in January to look into whether Taylor's home received suspicious mail. The office concluded it wasn't.
Jaynes is on administrative reassignment until questions about "how and why the search warrant was approved" are answered, interim Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder said last month.
It is that tenuous connection to Glover that led police to Taylor's apartment March 13, Aguiar and his co-counsel, Lonita Baker, say in the complaint.
"Breonna’s home should never have had police there in the first place," the attorneys wrote in the filing. "When the layers are peeled back, the origin of Breonna’s home being raided by police starts with a political need to clear out a street for a large real estate development project and finishes with a newly formed, rogue police unit violating all levels of policy, protocol and policing standards.
"Breonna’s death was the culmination of radical political and police conduct."
According to the police department's organization chart, the Place-Based Investigations squad was created to address "systemically violent locations" and help crime deterrence efforts.
"PBI focuses on identifying and disrupting crime place networks," the police department's website says. "These networks include crime sites, but also places used by offenders that do not typically come to the attention of police. PBI will collaborate with other government and community partners to identify and eliminate violence facilitators."
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Court records show Jaynes sought five warrants March 12: for Taylor's apartment, a suspected drug house, two vacant homes nearby and a suspected stash house.
Glover and a man named Adrian Walker were named on all five search warrants and were among the night's primary targets.
"The reality was that the occupants were not anywhere close to Louisville’s versions of Pablo Escobar or Scarface," the court complaint says. "And they were not violent criminals. They were simply a setback to a large real estate development deal, and thus the issue needed to be cleaned up."
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Glover was arrested on Elliott Avenue that night for trafficking and firearm offenses. The case remains pending in Circuit Court.
Glover, 30, has faced drug charges before and had pending drugs and weapons charges against him at the time of the warrant March 13.
Jaynes also requested a warrant for the Elliott Avenue home April 21, listing Glover again as a target. Glover was arrested again April 22 after the warrant was executed, court records show, for additional drug and trafficking charges.
The case remains pending.
Follow Phillip M. Bailey on Twitter at @phillipmbailey.
Follow Tessa Duvall on Twitter @TessaDuvall.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Breonna Taylor case tied to Louisville gentrification plan: lawyers