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• Posts claiming that Breonna Taylor was involved in drug dealing with her ex-boyfriend overstate her involvement in the narcotics investigation that led police to her apartment. They also ignore the fact that much of the evidence linking her to the investigation is disputed.
• Whether the officers knocked and announced themselves is disputed.
• Taylor’s boyfriend has acknowledged that he fired first at the police officers, but he said that he thought the apartment was being broken into. A 9-1-1 call he made shortly after the shooting backs up his claims.
On Sep. 23, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that a grand jury wouldn’t charge Louisville police officers with killing Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot to death by police in her apartment, has become an icon of racial injustice, and the grief over the attorney general’s announcement sparked more protests in Louisville, where at least two police officers were shot.
The controversy over one of the country’s most contentious police killings has also splashed across social media platforms with misinformation not far behind.
Here are some of the most common social media claims about the shooting of Breonna Taylor, fact-checked:
These claims are False. They exaggerate Taylor’s involvement in the investigation that led to police targeting her apartment and ignore the fact that much of the evidence linking her to that investigation has been disputed.
According to a detailed police investigative report obtained by the Louisville Courier Journal, the investigation primarily centered on other individuals, including Jamarcus Glover, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. The documents show that Taylor came to the attention of police officers through her association with Glover, a convicted drug dealer. Police surveilled addresses Glover frequently visited, including Taylor’s apartment.
Glover was not the man with Taylor on the night that she was killed, and according to the Taylor family’s lawyer, Taylor had cut ties with Glover before the shooting.
Police suspected that Taylor was keeping narcotics or cash for Glover for several reasons: A car registered in her name had stopped at a separate property under surveillance; Glover listed her apartment as his home address; Glover frequently traveled between her apartment and a drug house; and Glover had picked up a package at her home.
None of this supports the Facebook posts’ claims that she was "running drugs" and "knee deep in criminal/drug dealing activities." The presence of a relationship between Glover and Taylor does not prove that she was a drug runner.
Furthermore, the posts don’t mention that the evidence linking Taylor to the investigation of Glover and his associates has been fiercely contested.
The Taylor family’s attorney has said that the package that Glover picked up contained clothes and shoes. In an interview with the Louisville Courier Journal, Glover said that he sent packages to Taylor’s apartment because he was worried that deliveries to his house would be stolen.
Since Taylor’s death, additional information has come to light tying her to Glover. Weeks after the shooting, a police memo was leaked to the Courier-Journal that included a summary of a phone call Glover made from jail hours after Taylor was shot. In the call, Glover claimed that he was storing money in Taylor’s apartment. However, police found no illicit cash in Taylor’s home, and none of these details were included in the search warrant application to the judge. The Louisville Police themselves criticized the leak, calling it "irrelevant to our goal of obtaining justice" and "simply not helpful."
In addition, Glover later reversed his statements, telling the Courier-Journal that Taylor wasn’t involved in drug dealing and that she hadn’t been storing money for him. In an interview with NBC News, Glover’s attorney Scott Barton said that his client has long held that "Breonna Taylor had nothing to do with any drug transactions."
Glover refused to implicate Taylor despite the fact that he may have been under pressure to do so. Attorneys for Taylor’s family say that prosecutors presented Glover with a plea bargain that suggested he’d get reduced charges for incriminating her. (Prosecutors say that the plea bargain was a rough draft.)
These claims are true. According to interviews with Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend who was with her in the apartment, the two of them were in bed at 12:40 a.m. when they heard someone banging loudly on the door.
Walker said that he initially feared that it was Glover attempting to force his way in. Walker grabbed his gun, which was legally registered under his name.
According to Walker, both he and Taylor asked who was at the door multiple times but received no answer. The two of them were walking toward the door when police used a battering ram to bust into the apartment. Unable to see who was breaking in, Walker fired his weapon, and, according to police, struck an officer in the femoral artery. Police returned fire, striking Taylor multiple times.
The officer survived his injuries.
Various aspects of these claims are disputed.
"Evidence shows that officers both knocked and announced their presence" at Taylor’s apartment, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said at a Sept. 23 press conference. An independent witness who was near the apartment corroborated the officers’ statements about their announcement, Cameron said.
However, Taylor’s family and neighbors say that police did not identify themselves, and Walker has maintained that while he heard banging on the door, he also thought someone was breaking into the apartment, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.
Taylor’s family attorney gave the Louisville Courier Journal audio of Walker’s 911 call after the shooting. "I don't know what is happening," Walker told the emergency operator. "Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend."
A judge approved the warrant as a "no-knock," and a timeline of the case posted on Louisville mayor’s website called it a no-knock warrant. But Cameron said that superiors advised the officers to knock and announce their presence, and the warrant "was not served as a no-knock warrant."
There is no video or body camera footage of the officers’ attempted execution of a search warrant — video footage starts when area patrol officers arrive, Cameron said. (At the time of Taylor’s death in March, the undercover narcotics officers serving the warrant were not required to wear body cameras. That policy has since changed.)
The man who told the New York Times he heard the police announce themselves said they said "police" a single time.
In addition, Walker’s attorney said that the witness initially denied hearing police announce themselves in two interviews. It was only on the third interview that he mentioned hearing an announcement.
This is true. But again, Taylor herself was not the main target of the narcotics investigation.
Taylor’s information was on the search warrant based on police’s belief that her ex-boyfriend "used her home to receive mail, keep drugs or stash money earned from the sale of drugs," the Louisville Courier Journal reported.
Taylor had no criminal record, and police officers didn’t find any drugs or illicit cash in her home.
An Instagram post, Jun. 25, 2020
A Facebook post, Sep. 23, 2020
A Facebook post, Aug. 30, 2020
A Tweet, Sep. 24, 2020
Breonna Taylor search warrant, Mar. 12, 2020
Louisville Courier Journal, 'Clearly, I was scared': Newly released police interviews shed light on Breonna Taylor case, May 25, 2020
Louisville Courier Journal, Exclusive: Breonna Taylor had nothing to do with illegal drug trade, ex-boyfriend says, Aug. 27, 2020
Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville police pursued 'no-knock' search warrant in fatal shooting of ER tech in her home, Aug. 30, 2020
Louisville Courier Journal, Prosecutor denies offering plea deal to drug suspect naming Breonna Taylor as co-defendant, Aug. 31, 2020
Louisville Mayor’s Office, Details and timeline of the Breonna Taylor case, Jul. 31, 2020
NBC News, 'Deeply reckless': Critics slam leaked police memo about Breonna Taylor, Aug. 27, 2020
New York Times, Breonna Taylor’s life was changing. Then the police came to her door, Aug. 30, 2020
New York Times, Fired officer is indicted in Breonna Taylor case; protesters wanted stronger charges, Sep. 23, 2020
New York Times, What we know about Breonna Taylor’s case and death, Sep. 24, 2020
Rev.com, AG Daniel Cameron press conference transcript, September 23: Breonna Taylor decision, Sep. 23, 2020
USA Today, Why were police at Breonna Taylor's home? Here's what an investigative summary says, Sep. 24, 2020
Washington Post, Correcting the misinformation about Breonna Taylor, Sep. 24, 2020