Kenneth Walker, boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, stands in front of a portrait of Taylor during a protest memorial for her in Jefferson Square Park on March 13, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
Louisville police surveilled Breonna Taylor’s apartment less than 48 hours before executing the raid that killed her and saw her boyfriend Kenneth Walker’s car parked outside, according to a recent Department of Justice filing.But the officer who noticed Walker’s presence allegedly never shared that information with the team that carried out the raid.
Officers’ interaction with Walker that night ultimately led to Taylor’s death, and Louisville police have long maintained that his presence was unexpected. When police executed the deadly raid on Taylor’s apartment, on March 13, 2020, Walker, who had a concealed carry license, thought an intruder had broken in and fired one shot, which hit an officer in the leg. Police then responded with a barrage of more than 30 bullets, killing Taylor. The Louisville Metro Police Department’s awareness of Walker’s presence at the apartment, as well as his association with Taylor, also raises questions about why police executed the raid in the first place. Police had obtained the warrant by arguing that Taylor had an ongoing relationship with Jamarcus Glover, the central target of a drug investigation. The stunning revelations were buried in an addendum to a plea agreement with former detective Kelly Hanna Goodlett, one of four former Louisville Metro Police Department officers federally charged last month in relation to Taylor’s death. According to the plea agreement, former Louisville police sergeant Kyle Meany, who’s also facing federal charges, witnessed Walker’s car at the apartment while conducting surveillance on March 11. Meany was, at the time, the head of the unit responsible for the investigation that led police to Taylor’s home. The unit has since been disbanded.Goodlett alleges in the new filing that Meany never shared Walker’s presence at Taylor’s apartment with the team and that the information could have drastically changed how police conducted the raid. The potential for police to encounter a licensed gun owner, for example, would have increased the risk associated with the warrant, and, as a result, required the use of a SWAT team, which handles more dangerous operations.
“Goodlett would have ‘thrown a fit’ if she had known that information existed and that it was neither included in the affidavit nor provided to officers executing the warrant,” according to the filing.
The unit investigating Taylor’s apartment also had other intelligence suggesting Walker would be there—and that he may have a gun, as VICE News’ previously reported. On the same day that police observed Walker’s car outside of Taylor’s apartment, Det. Wesley Barton requested a “workup,” or intelligence, on Walker, which revealed that he and Taylor knew each other well, and that he had a concealed carry license. But that information, according to the recent filing, was also not shared with the officers executing the raid. Meany also allegedly saw the workup on Walker. It’s unclear if the document was shared with anyone else besides Meany and Barton.Since Taylor’s death, the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Kentucky Attorney General’s office have conducted multiple investigations into what transpired that night. During interviews, neither Meany nor Barton shared information about the intelligence on Walker or knowledge of his presence at Taylor’s apartment.Meany, Goodlett, and former Det. Joshua Jaynes were indicted last month on federal conspiracy charges for allegedly falsifying information included in the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant. Goodlett pleaded guilty, and is cooperating with investigators. Meany and Jaynes both pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go to trial on Oct, 11. Former Louisville detective Brett Hankison, who fired ten shots during the raid, was charged with a federal deprivation of Taylor’s civil rights. His trial is set for Oct. 13. Barton is not currently facing any charges. The Department of Justice is also expected to release its letter on the civil rights investigation into Louisville Metro Police Department in the coming weeks, which is separate from the charges filed against the four current and former officers. Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
“Goodlett would have ‘thrown a fit’ if she had known that information existed.”