Racism did not kill Breonna Taylor. She did not die from prejudice or discrimination. Her death was not caused by Confederate monuments or statues of Christopher Columbus, nor could her death have been prevented by social-media hashtags. If you don’t know who Breonna Taylor was, the short version of the story is that the 26-year-old was shot to death March 13 by police in Louisville, Kentucky, during a drug raid. The long version of the story is rather more complicated, but Taylor’s death has been reduced to a slogan (“Justice for Breonna”) by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest movement.
If you’re dating a drug dealer’s ex-girlfriend and somebody busts through your door at 12:30 in the morning, what do you do?
Like so many other police shootings seized upon by this movement, BLM activists are interested in promoting a political narrative that ignores specific details of Taylor’s death. Most of the movement’s supporters have probably never looked past the slogan-sized condensed version of the story — an unarmed black woman killed in her own home by white cops — to ask whether racism had anything to do with her death. Certainly the national media have not sought to determine whether the facts of this cause célèbre support the BLM movement’s mythology of “systemic racism” as the one-size-fits-all explanation for police shootings. Fear of being targeted by “cancel culture” plays a role in silencing all criticism of the movement, and therefore no one (no, not even Tucker Carlson) has questioned the BLM narrative of Breonna Taylor’s death.
“Say Her Name” is one of the slogans that activists have connected to this Louisville shooting, but if we want to understand why police shot Breonna Taylor, there is another name that needs to be said — Jamarcus Glover.
Glover is a 30-year-old narcotics trafficker who police say was dealing crack cocaine and marijuana out of a “trap house” on Elliott Avenue in Louisville’s west side. According to a police affidavit, detectives had Glover and his accomplice Adrian Walker under surveillance, and had seen their car — a red Dodge Charger with Mississippi plates — “make frequent trips” from the Elliott Avenue “trap house” to an apartment 10 miles away on Springfield Drive. Detective Joshua Jaynes wrote in the affidavit that Glover was using the Springfield Drive apartment as his mailing address; Jaynes said he had witnessed Glover pick up a postal package at the apartment; and, citing his “training and experience,” Jaynes stated his belief that Glover “may be keeping narcotics and/or proceeds from the sale of narcotics” at the Springfield Drive apartment. All of this was stated in an application for a search warrant of the Springfield Drive apartment where Breonna Taylor lived.
You see, Jamarcus Glover was Breonna Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. They broke up a couple years ago, according to a lawyer for Taylor’s family who said she maintained a “passive friendship” with Glover. This “friendship” apparently included allowing Glover to receive his mail at her apartment, and, although there is no evidence that Taylor was ever involved in Glover’s drug operation, the “training and experience” of Detective Jaynes led him to believe there must be some connection. This was convincing enough for Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Mary Shaw, who approved the so-called “no-knock” warrant for Taylor’s apartment, and also approved nearly identical warrants for the four other addresses linked to Glover’s drug operation, including the Elliott Avenue “trap house.”
Louisville police served all five warrants almost simultaneously, shortly after midnight on March 13. Glover was arrested at the Elliott Avenue address, but the raid on Taylor’s apartment went horribly wrong. Police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was part of the five-man squad assigned to serve the warrant on the Springfield Drive address, said the squad was told in a preliminary briefing that this was a “soft target” because Taylor was believed to be alone in the apartment. Therefore, Sgt. Mattingly said, the decision was made for officers to knock on the door and announce themselves as police, despite the authorization for a “no-knock” entry. Sgt. Mattingly knocked for about a minute, he said, before the supervising lieutenant ordered them to “hit it,” using a battering ram to breach the door.
Inside the apartment, however, Breonna Taylor was not alone. She had a new boyfriend visiting her, and they were watching a movie in her bedroom. The boyfriend, Kenneth Walker (no relation to Glover’s accomplice Adrian Walker) had a legally owned pistol, and when he heard somebody pounding on the front door, he grabbed his weapon. Why? Because he was “scared to death,” believing that the person pounding on the door might be Taylor’s drug-dealer ex-boyfriend. Walker and Taylor emerged from the bedroom into the hallway of the apartment and, Walker said, Taylor called out, “Who is it?”
The next thing that happened, in Walker’s description of the incident, is the door “comes off its hinges” — the police are busting in, but he doesn’t know it’s the police. If you’re dating a drug dealer’s ex-girlfriend and somebody busts through your door at 12:30 in the morning, what do you do?
Walker fired a shot, hitting Sgt. Mattingly in the thigh, and Sgt. Mattingly immediately returned fire, getting off six shots. Two other officers also opened fire. In total, police fired at least 22 shots, none of which hit Walker, but Taylor was struck eight times and died on the scene. Although a grand jury indicted Walker on a charge of attempted murder of a police officer, that charge was dismissed in May at the request of Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine.
Last month, Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder announced the firing of Officer Brett Hankison, who he said “blindly” shot 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment through “a patio door and window which were covered with material that completely prevented you from verifying any person as an immediate threat or more importantly any innocent persons present.” The department has placed Detective Jaynes, Sgt. Mattingly, and Officer Myles Cosgrove, who also fired shots during the incident, on “administrative reassignment.” The case is being investigated by the Justice Department and the FBI, as well as Kentucky state officials, and Taylor’s family has filed a lawsuit against the city of Louisville. The city, meanwhile, has passed a law banning “no-knock” warrants.
None of the facts of the Breonna Taylor case can be altered by protest marches or by Instagram memes. And the facts of the case, which may argue for changes in police training and procedures, offer no evidence of “systemic racism” as the explanation for Taylor’s death. Angry mobs blocking traffic or toppling statues are not doing anything to bring about “Justice for Breonna.”
So what are the protesters actually doing? What is accomplished, for example, by WNBA players walking off the court in protest of the national anthem and dedicating their season to Breonna Taylor? She wasn’t shot because of Francis Scott Key’s lyrics about “bombs bursting in air” over Fort McHenry. She was shot because of her “friendship” with her ex-boyfriend, the dope dealer.
Her death was the result of a “key miscalculation” by police, CNN concluded after it assigned a team of investigative reporters to the Breonna Taylor story. Racism had nothing to do with it, because if Louisville cops just wanted to shoot black people, why didn’t they shoot Jamarcus Glover? The “trap house” suspect did not resist arrest and is still alive. Why aren’t the mobs protesting against him? That might make sense, but it’s 2020, and nothing makes sense this year.