Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police officers on March 13, 2020 in Louisville, KY. Officers with the Louisville Police Department were serving a legally obtained search warrant on her apartment – as there was significant evidence that Ms. Taylor was intimately involved with/assisting a drug dealer and convicted felon with his illegal enterprises – her ex-boyfriend (Jamarcus Glover).
It’s been three years and anti-police activists are still trading on her name and exploiting her death to help achieve their goals of abolishing police and destabilizing communities.
The problematic phrase in that tweet is, “the murder of Breonna Taylor”.
This is infuriating because “murder” is a crime. “Murder” is defined as, “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another”.
Factually, legally, and morally there is simply nothing about the death of Ms. Taylor that can be described as “premeditated” or “unlawful”. The misinformation and cowardice by political leaders continues to be permeate the city.
- The warrant was written and sworn to be true by a police detective.
- The underlying investigation was monitored by a police supervisor.
- The application for the warrant was approved by a police supervisor.
- The warrant was approved and signed by a judge.
This was a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s apartment. This was one of multiple search warrants that were being served that evening in reference to this narcotics investigation. There was also an arrest warrant for Mr. Glover – who was at another location at this time.
Eventually, after the occupants at Ms. Taylor’s apartment refused to open the door – police forcefully entered the apartment and were immediately met with gunfire. Sgt. John Mattingly was shot in the leg and his femoral artery was severed. Officers predictably returned fire. The gunfire from police officers struck Ms. Taylor and she suffered a fatal injury. Her boyfriend, the shooter (Kenneth Walker) – somehow managed to escape unscathed.
Lawful and Objectively Reasonable
It is not merely my opinion that this Officer-Involved-Shooting (OIS) was within the law, but every investigator and prosecutor that has reviewed the case has come to the same conclusion.
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron stated, “According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” he said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
In 2022 Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice (DOJ) completed an investigation into this case. No charges were filed against Sgt. Mattingly or Officer Cosgrove – who had returned fire – after Sgt. Mattingly had been shot.
For more context – this was a not a “pro police” DOJ. This was the DOJ of President Biden and the political pressure was mounting to find something to charge these officers with. The fact that they were not charged screams volumes at the highest legal decibel just how objectively reasonable the actions of Sgt. Mattingly and Officer Cosgrove were.
So, we should all be asking Mayor Greenberg (@LouisvilleMayor) why he used the term “murder” in reference to this case.
- Was the mayor pandering to anti-police activists?
- Was the mayor simply falling line with the DOJ? (Side note. On March 8, 2023 the DOJ predictably found that the city of Louisville engages in a “pattern and practice of conduct that violates” constitutional rights and the city has agreed to enter into the consent decree process with an independent monitor.)
- Was this an honest mistake by the mayor?
- If this was an honest mistake by a careless mayor – then where is the apology?
No Knock Warrant
In short, Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend (Kenneth Walker) stated that he and Ms. Taylor were awoken by loud knocking. Mr. Walker stated that they believed that it could have been Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend (Jamarcus Glover) – who is a violent criminal.
The dispute between police officers and Mr. Walker is over whether or not the police officers announced themselves as “police”. There is simply no factual disagreement over whether or not the police actually knocked on the door. Both the police and Mr. Walker agree that the police knocked loudly on the apartment door – prior to making entry. Therefore, the warrant served in the Breonna Taylor case – was simply just not a NKW.
There is a reasonable argument to be made that if the police officers had served the warrant as a NKW – that they would have taken Ms. Taylor and Mr. Walker by surprise. The use of the element of surprise by trained police officers via a NKW is usually enough to secure all individuals in a residence before they have a chance to realize what is occurring. The knocking by police in this case gave Mr. Walker and Ms. Taylor the time necessary to get dressed, grab a firearm, and both stand in the hallway waiting – as police entered through the door.
In short, it is likely that if police had utilized a NKW – that Ms. Taylor would still be alive today and Sgt. John Mattingly would not have suffered a nearly fatal gunshot wound.
*(check out our prior article for a comprehensive dive into NKWs)
This fact is relevant in this case – because if the police did announce themselves and Mr. Walker fired at them anyway – that would nearly undoubtedly trigger criminal charges to be brought against Mr. Walker (that is, in an honest legal climate). As his entire defense is based on the claim that he did not know it was police officers that had entered the home.
Here are possible scenarios:
- The police announced.
- The police announced and Mr. Walker did not hear it.
- The police announced and Mr. Walker did not believe it was really police.
- The police failed to announce.
The least likely scenario is that the police did not announce. Here’s why:
Police officers operate with “officer safety” in mind. Police are often criticized for this. Anti-police activists often complain that police officers put their own safety over the safety of the public. Therefore, the relevant question to ask is – what would have been ‘“safer” – announcing or not announcing?
If officers are going to knock on the door (as all parties agree they did) then the safest tactic, to pair with knocking, is to also announce. Once the knocking has occurred the occupants of the residence are put on notice that someone is at the door. Therefore, there is no element of surprise – and literally zero tactical gain for police officers to then not announce.
If officers are executing a NKW and are utilizing the element of surprise – then clearly announcing would make no sense.
But it also makes no sense that an entire team of experienced police officers would all agree in unison and intentionally not announce themselves as “police” – even though that course of action is objectively more dangerous and in direct contrast to all training received.
Also, even though the involved police officers were not issued body cameras – this occurred at a large apartment complex. The chances that a surveillance camera or a nosey neighbor with a cell phone captured the entry on video – is high, and police officers would know this. Therefore, if police did not announce themselves prior to entry and every police officer on scene subsequently stated that they announced themselves anyway – while knowing that there is a highly likelihood that independent video exists – would be a very strange thing to fabricate.
Common sense mixed with some knowledge of police procedure/tactics would lead a reasonable person to believe that the officers announced themselves before they entered the apartment. It is most likely that Mr. Walker simply did not hear the announcement, or heard the announcement and did not actually believe that it was the really the police.
But, that is not appropriate here. Today we conclude with the response that Sgt. Mattingly tweeted at Mayor Greenberg.
*For more information on this case I highly recommend the book 12 Seconds in the Dark by Sgt. John Mattingly.
**I did contact Sgt. Mattingly prior to writing this article. He encouraged truthful reporting on this case. So please share any piece of unbiased and honest content that you come across on this case. Everyone needs to know what really happened.
This article originally appeared at Police Law News Substack.