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Warrant used in fatal encounter between Breonna Taylor and police was linked to Louisville gentrification plan, family's lawyers claim

Louisville mayor on Breonna Taylor shooting
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Breonna Taylor shooting, police reform 07:38

Attorneys representing Breonna Taylor's family are claiming that the police warrant that led up to the 26-year-old emergency medical technician's death was linked to a gentrification plan in Louisville. The city's mayor denied the accusations in a statement provided to CBS affiliate WLKY.

In an amended lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on Sunday, lawyers indicated there were plans underway for a "high investment, high dollar real estate development" for Elliot Avenue. Taylor's ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Cordell Glover rented a home on the avenue, according to the attorneys, and it presented a "roadblock" for the project.

Attorneys alleged the "large scale projects" to develop west Louisville made by Mayor Greg Fischer have "primarily failed." They said the focus on Elliot Avenue is one of his "last chances" for a "visible legacy" before his term expires in 2022. One of the projects he championed is Vision Russell, which the lawyers said "has been in the works for the last six years without the promised success."

Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Fisher, told WLKY that the allegations weren't true.

"Those are outrageous allegations without foundation or supporting facts," Porter said. "They are insulting to the neighborhood members of the Vision Russell initiative and all the people involved in the years of work being done to revitalize the neighborhoods of west Louisville."

Louisville police release nearly-blank incident report on Breonna Taylor's death 01:10

According to the lawsuit, there was a surge of purchases by the city of homes and properties on Elliot Avenue in recent years that "have been scheduled for demolition and/or rehabilitation for developments to proceed." If plans go accordingly, the development will bring in "modern, futuristic looking homes, a cafe, an amphitheater, a state-of-the-art fitness center and more," the lawyers say, citing the plans.

However, the plans also put forth the "need for current homes on Elliott to be demolished," the lawyers allege.

According to the lawsuit, a unit within the Louisville Metro Police Department called Placed Based Investigations (PBI) was "tasked with focusing on certain areas which needed to be cleared for real estate development projects to proceed." The department's website said this squad focuses on identifying and disrupting "crime place networks."

"These networks include crime sites, but also places used by offenders that do not typically come to the attention of police," the department's website said. "PBI will collaborate with other government and community partners to identify and eliminate violence facilitators."

The lawsuit said PBI worked within the LMPD's Criminal Interdiction Division (CID), and was "directed to devote substantial resources and manpower specifically to Elliott Avenue."

Supporters of Black Lives Matter attach flowers to a fence after a protest where they commemorated Breonna Taylor on what would have been her 27th birthday in Hollywood, California, on June 5, 2020. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The attorneys alleged Glover, his home on 2424 Elliot Ave. along with Adrian Orlandes Walker and a man with the initials "DC" were considered "targets" of the CID. Glover, Walker and DC were labeled "occupants" in the lawsuit. 

"Upon information and belief, CID members were deliberately misled to believe that, by focusing on 2424 Elliot, along with The Occupants, they were targeting some of Louisville's largest violent crime and drug rings and that accomplishing the objective was critical towards reducing crime and violence in Louisville," the attorneys said. 

"The reality was that The Occupants were not anywhere close to Louisville's versions of Pablo Escobar or Scarface," they added. 

The lawsuit described efforts to apprehend them from December 2019 to March — none resulting in leaving the residence. However, the lawyers alleged "more pressure" was placed on CID to "do whatever means necessary to get the Elliot homes cleared."

"The plan was so outrageous that even an effort to apprehend a serial killer or a terrorist would likely pale in comparison," the lawyers said.

Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor, seen in this undated photo, was shot and killed during a police search in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. Handout

LMPD got its first of five no knock warrants of the year — three of them for homes on Elliot Avenue and one of them of Taylor's home on Springfield Drive, according to the lawsuit.

CBS News obtained the search warrant in May. The document names Glover and Walker, who were seen transporting packages suspected to be drugs to her home months earlier. The lawsuit claimed PBI member John Jaynes "misrepresented" in the affidavit that he had confirmed with a U.S. postal inspector that Glover had been receiving packages at Taylor's home. According to the suit, it was done to "try and meet the probable cause standard for a search warrant of Breonna' s home." 

Despite learning about apprehending Glover at a location on Elliot Avenue earlier, LMPD decided to execute the search warrant at Taylor's home after midnight on March 13. 

Taylor was fatally shot by police who entered the residence while looking for illegal drugs. Police did not find any narcotics. 

Officials claim the officers announced themselves before entering and only fired in response to shots from Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. But Taylor's family claims that the officers did not announce themselves and that Walker believed they were trying to break in.

Prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and his co-counsels in the case, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, issued a statement about the refiling to WLKY. 

"Connecting the dots, it's clear that these officers should never have been at Breonna Taylor's home in the first place, and that they invaded the residence with no probable cause," the attorneys said. "The officers who robbed Breonna of her life — and Tamika Palmer of her daughter — exhibited outrageous, reckless, willful, wanton and unlawful conduct. As a consequence, the city lost one of its most precious essential frontline workers, who risked her life daily to save her fellow residents in a pandemic. This is a grievous offense against Breonna, her family and the greater Louisville community."

The three officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave. None of them have been charged, despite calls for arrests by protesters.

In June, Louisville passed a ban on "no-knock" warrants, called Breonna's Law, following Taylor's death.

Louisville passes ban on no-knock warrants called "Breonna's Law" 02:26

Victoria Albert contributed to this report.

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