Image via Shutterstock Lawsuit alleges Breonna Taylor's death was connected to a gentrification plan
Image via Shutterstock

“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.”

A multi-million-dollar gentrification plan was a factor in Breonna Taylor’s death, lawyers for her family said in an amended complaint filed on Sunday.

The police who shot the 26-year-old EMT worker in Kentucky as she slept in bed were executing a no-knock warrant in a block of western Louisville that was part of the city’s well-funded Vision Russell development plan, the Courier Journal reports. Louisville was among five cities that won a federal grant of nearly $30 million in the final months of the Obama administration to pay for the plan.

“Breonna’s home should never have had police there in the first place… 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,” the complaint states. “Breonna’s death was the culmination of radical political and police conduct.”

The 31-page document included new details of the night Taylor died. The gunfire began at 12:42 a.m., according to 911 calls, and the death certificate lists Taylor’s time of death as “approximately 12:48.” 

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“In the six minutes that elapsed from the time Breonna was shot, to the time she died, we have no evidence suggesting that any officer made entry in an attempt to check and assist her,” Sam Aguiar, the family’s attorney, said in an interview with the New York Times. “She suffered.”

Taylor had little to no chance of survival, and was likely to have died in “less than a minute,” the coroner, Dr. Barbara Weakley-Jones, told the Times. Asked why the time of death cited was six minutes instead of one, she said that the deputy who filled out the death certificate was not trained in reading autopsy reports.

Aguiar, the lawyer, also uncovered violations of established police protocols, including that no ambulance was on site on standby at the time of the raid. Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for the Louisville Metro Police Department, confirmed to the Times that officers commonly request an ambulance before executing no-knock warrants. She did not comment further on the specifics of the case.

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In filing the no-knock search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, Detective Joshua Jaynes wrote that he had seen a convicted drug dealer leave Taylor’s apartment in January with a USPS package before driving to a “known drug house.” Jaynes also wrote that he verified “through a US Postal Inspector” that the man had been receiving packages at Taylor’s address, but a U.S. postal inspector in Louisville told WDRB News that his office was not used to verify that, and that a different agency had asked in January whether Taylor’s home was receiving suspicious mail. The investigation had concluded it wasn’t.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office called the real estate allegation “outrageous,” citing recent capital projects in the area such as a new YMCA, a $10 million grant to the Louisville Urban League’s Sports and Learning Complex, and the redevelopment of a housing project. Vision Russell’s stated goal is to transform and revitalize the West End, known for low-income and crime-scarred neighborhoods. 

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In the meantime, not one of the officers involved in Taylor’s death has been charged. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron asked the public to remain patient with his office’s investigation on June 18, but in three weeks has made no announcements on the progress of the case. Instead, Cameron was dragged on social media for posting pictures of his engagement party while Taylor’s killers remain free.