Taylor had two love interests in her life: Kenneth Walker and Jamarcus Glover. She met Walker on Twitter in 2012 when they were both college students. Then in 2016, she met Glover, a convicted drug dealer whose first arrest occurred in 2008. She went back and forth dating both men at different times throughout the years, until she finally ended her relationship with Glover in February and decided to marry Walker. But between these two complicated relationships, Taylor had several interactions with Glover that caught the attention of police who had been targeting Glover in a narcotics investigation:
- From January 2016 through January 2020, Glover and his associates called Taylor’s cell phone from jail 48 times, according to an internal police report. She paid at least $7,500 in bail for Glover and one associate between 2017 and 2019.
- In January 2020, police installed a pole camera overlooking a neighborhood where they suspected heavy drug trafficking. Dozens of cars stopped in front of a house where Glover and his associates allegedly stashed cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana, and prescription pills. One of those cars was registered to Taylor.
- That same month, police reported seeing Glover walking out of Taylor’s apartment with a “suspected USPS package in his right hand” and then driving to a “known drug house.” Glover had begun listing Taylor’s address as his own around that time.
- Police placed a GPS tracker on Glover’s car and photographed him making six trips to Taylor’s apartment in January.
- In February, the camera captured Taylor standing in front of Glover’s house during one of her occasional visits there.
- Based on these observations, police suspected Taylor was helping Glover hold drugs and money in her apartment.
The investigation that led to Taylor’s death began as an attempt at police reform after local black residents complained about decades of aggressive policing against blacks. In April 2019, the community erupted when Louisville officers pulled over an 18-year-old high-school homecoming king for making a wide turn onto another street. The video of the officers frisking and handcuffing the black boy on the streets captured more than 1 million views.
Since then, the Louisville department has shifted from conducting frequent traffic stops, which tend to disproportionately burden black males, to focusing instead on high-crime locations under a new unit called Place-Based Investigations. That unit chose to investigate the 2400 block on Elliott Avenue, which has a high concentration of violent crime and vacant properties—and is also where Glover allegedly operated.
The investigation culminated in the early afternoon of March 12, when police obtained five no-knock search warrants, including one for Taylor’s apartment. Police typically seek no-knock warrants when they believe alerting suspects of their presence would allow them to escape, assault officers, or get rid of evidence.
Police planned multiple raids that night. While some officers raided Taylor’s apartment, other teams conducted three no-knock raids on Elliott Avenue and found large amounts of illegal drugs, cash, digital scales, and weapons. Police arrested Glover and four others.
But before raiding Taylor’s apartment, officers on scene said they were told to knock and announce themselves because Taylor was a “soft target.” She had no criminal record except for a 2012 shoplifting charge that was later dismissed. Her only connection to the narcotics ring was her intimate relationship with Glover and photographs of them visiting each other.
The raid early on March 13 is when facts get murky.
Around 12:40 a.m., undercover officers pounded on Taylor’s door. The officers wore plain clothes and tactical vests. According to grand jury recordings, one officer told investigators he was wearing a body camera, but he didn’t realize it did not activate.
Undercover officers watching Taylor’s residence say they did not see Walker and Taylor return to her apartment together that night after a steak dinner date. They expected Taylor to be alone, unarmed, so they turned away an ambulance on standby an hour before the raid, breaching standard practice.
But Walker was in bed with Taylor when they heard loud banging on the door. Officers say after they knocked, they repeatedly announced themselves, yelling, “Police, please come to the door!” But Walker told investigators that neither he nor Taylor heard anyone identify themselves. Walker told investigators that Taylor twice called out loudly, “Who is it?” but heard no response except the ruckus on the door.
According to lawyers and The New York Times, about a dozen witnesses corroborate Walker’s account, saying they heard the knocking and gunshots but not the police identifying themselves. Only one witness said he heard the officers yell out “police” only once. But according to Walker’s attorney and the grand jury recordings, that witness had changed his story two months after he first attested he did not hear the police announce themselves.
As the banging continued, Walker said, he and Taylor jumped out of bed, got dressed, and crept down the hallway toward the door. Walker, a licensed gun owner with no criminal record, grabbed his 9 mm Glock. He later told police he was worried it was Glover trying to break in. The police then burst into the apartment with a battering ram.
That was when Walker fired a single shot. Walker told investigators he didn’t know it was the police. He faced criminal charges of attempted murder and assault, but those charges were dismissed on May 22 due to a lack of evidence. Under Kentucky law, he had a legal right to defend himself.
The officers—who also had a right to defend themselves—fired back a barrage of bullets. Five struck Taylor. At some point, a bullet hit one officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, in the leg and severed his femoral artery.
Another officer, former detective Brett Hankison, ran to the parking lot and fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s ground-level apartment through her patio sliding-glass door and window. Blinds covered the door and window, which meant Hankison was shooting blindly. Bullets ripped through apartment walls and into the unit behind Taylor’s, where a pregnant woman and her 5-year-old son were sleeping. According to a Kentucky State Police ballistics analysis, there is no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s bullets hit Taylor.