Separating Fact From Fiction In The Breonna Taylor Case

In the wake of a Kentucky grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case, a number of fairly high profile folks on both sides of the aisle have been pushing false or incomplete narratives about the case itself and the events that led up to Taylor’s shooting by Louisville police officers conducting a raid on her apartment. I don’t know how much good it will do in the long run, but having covered the Taylor case for months now, I feel the need to correct the record on a few bits of misinformation that I’ve seen since Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron announced the grand jury’s findings on Wednesday.

Let’s start with this tweet from former University of Kentucky basketball star Rex Chapman, who posted this Wednesday evening.

That’s simply false. The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville has seen the actual search warrants that were used in the narcotics investigation that led to the raid on Taylor’s home, and the paper has reported that Taylor’s name and address were indeed on one of the warrants that was issued.

The Courier Journal obtained copies of five search warrants Louisville police received March 12 as part of a narcotics investigation.

One was for Taylor’s apartment, three were for adjacent homes on Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood and one was for a house on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The Muhammad Ali Boulevard warrant was not executed, although the reason hasn’t been made public.

The search warrant for Taylor’s home includes her street address, apartment number and photos of her apartment door, which police later broke using a battering ram.

Taylor’s name, birth date and social security number are listed on the warrant, alongside the names of the narcotics investigation’s main targets, Jamarcus Glover and Adrian Walker.

Adrian Walker and Kenneth Walker are not related.

On the Right side of the aisle, I’ve seen several individuals portray Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, as a “criminal” or “thug” who knowingly opened fire on police as they entered Taylor’s apartment. There are a lot of variations of this tweet floating around.

Walker wasn’t named in the search warrant, and wasn’t a part of the investigation into Breonna Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover. He did not have a criminal record, and lawfully possessed the gun that he had when police came through the door of Taylor’s apartment. Walker has maintained that he and Taylor were in bed watching TV when they heard the sound the sound of loud banging on the apartment door.

Walker said he initially thought it might’ve been Taylor’s former boyfriend, but there was no response when Taylor twice called out, “Who is it?”

Then, Walker said he grabbed his gun (it was registered to Walker) saying he was, “Scared to death.”

Taylor yelled again “at the top of her lungs,” asking who it was, Walker said in the recording. He said he was asking, too.

They got out of bed and were going toward the door when it “comes off its hinges.” Walker fired one shot, unable to see who he was shooting at, he told police.

Police fired in response, striking Taylor multiple times, according to her family’s lawsuit against LMPD.

On Wednesday, AG Cameron revealed that one eyewitness says they heard police announce themselves, but there are several other witnesses who say they did not hear police identify themselves before breaching the door.

I think the most likely scenario is that Walker simply didn’t hear the police announce themselves and believed that he was acting in self-defense when he fired the shot as officers entered the apartment. Walker was not a suspect in the case, wasn’t named on the warrant, and there were no drugs found in Taylor’s home. In other words, Walker really didn’t have a motive to fire a single shot at cops, but he did have a motive to fire at what he believed were home invaders.

All of the evidence points to both sides believing that they were acting in self-defense. When Walker fired his gun, police rightfully responded with shots of their own. The death of Breonna Taylor is a tragedy, but that doesn’t mean that there are easy villains to be found on either side of the apartment door.

Unfortunately, as the Courier-Journal reported in its excellent fact-check on some of the most widespread rumors surrounding the case, there’s been no shortage of people putting out misinformation in the case for months, including activists like Shaun King, and even Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Breonna Taylor’s family.

The truth is far messier than the narrative of “evil cops gun down innocent woman” or “criminal thug opens fire on cops and is responsible for his girlfriend’s death.” While those simple narratives may be more comfortable for some of us, it’s more important that the truth be heard, especially since the lies and misinformation is helping to fuel the unrest, disorder, and violence in too many of our cities.