Breonna Taylor had big plans before police knocked down her door in deadly raid

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She’d worked at a Steak & Shake. She’d held a job driving senior citizens to their appointments. Now she was living her passion as an ER medical technician.

Her next goal was to become a nurse — and her family believed she could. They’d affectionately nicknamed her “Breewayy” — because whatever she wanted, she found a way to make it happen.

Her personal life was thriving, too. Her boyfriend had an engagement ring ready to propose and start a family. Taylor wanted a baby girl and had already picked out a name, her sister, Ju’Niyah Palmer said.
But those plans died with her on March 13, when three Louisville officers burst into her apartment after midnight with a no-knock warrant. Taylor had drifted off to sleep after watching a movie in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. The officers broke down the green door with a gold No. 4 on it using a battering ram.
Fearing an intruder, Walker opened fire. The officers unleashed a barrage of bullets, fatally shooting Taylor.
Protesters march for Breonna Taylor on  Aug. 25 in Louisville, Ky.

Family struggles with her death months later

Months later, her family says her death still feels surreal. They’ve described her as the glue that held them together.

Her mother, Tamika Palmer, was so devastated at the loss of her first born, she spent Mother’s Day in bed. Taylor would have marked her 27th birthday on June 5 with a dinner at a fancy restaurant, her mother says. She loved family gatherings, and would have insisted everyone get dressed up that day.
In a feature for Vanity Fair, Palmer recounted how she got pregnant with Taylor while she was a teen and was terrified her daughter would make the same mistakes.
But Taylor was a high achiever and goal-oriented. She started walking at 9 months, got her first computer at age 7 and loved listening to Johnnie Taylor’s blues as a little girl.

Mother and daughter grew up together, building a close relationship filled with funny anecdotes. She recalled her daughter’s numerous morning calls asking for her chilli recipe after her overnight shift at the hospital.

“Breonna would be in the grocery store at 7 in the morning … calling me like, ‘Mama, what do I need to buy for chili?'” she wrote. “And I would say, ‘Breonna, can you write this down, because I don’t understand why I got to tell you this all the time.'”

The mother and daughter also shared a passion for muscle cars and motorcycles. Taylor had just bought her dream car shortly before she died.

“Breonna’s absolute favorite was the Dodge Charger. She was on her second one — a 2019 Dodge Charger R/T,” her mother wrote. “She was so proud of this car, it was her baby. And she got these pipes on it. It’s got dual exhaust so you get the vroom!”

Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor, speaks at the Lincoln Memorial last month in Washington DC.

Calls for justice go beyond Louisville

Taylor’s death has resonated beyond Louisville.

For weeks, protesters have taken to the streets nationwide demanding justice. None of the officers have been charged with a crime — two remain on the force and a third was fired.

Unlike the case of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis officer pinned him under his knee as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe, there has been no police body camera video.

Louisville has passed “Breonna’s Law” that bans no-knock warrants and requires officers serving search warrants to wear body cameras.

Celebrities such as Beyonce and NBA player LeBron James have joined the demand for justice in her case. Oprah Winfrey put her on the cover of her magazine and set up billboards with her image across Louisville.

Her death is a reminder that Black women are suffering, too, at the hands of law enforcement and the intersections of race and gender need to be acknowledged, says David Stamps, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University.

“Breonna Taylor, like Sandra Bland, and other Black women, are often relegated to the back row as the emphasis is typically placed on the systemic racism and brutality that Black men face,” Stamps said. “This is why Breonna Taylor is an icon, she reminds us that we need to #SayHerName and that all Black life matters.”

An aerial view of a large-scale ground mural depicting Breonna Taylor in Annapolis, Maryland.

Previous relationship led police to her door

Taylor’s path to happiness was not always smooth. It includes a previous relationship with Jamarcus Glover, an alleged crack cocaine dealer. He was the reason police went to her door that night.

A judge had approved five no-knock search warrants the day before Taylor was killed, court records show. They were for locations linked to Glover, a convicted felon suspected of supplying a local drug house. One of the places was Taylor’s apartment.

Glover used Taylor’s residence as his “current home address” as of a February 20 check of online databases. He had been receiving mail there, an affidavit for a search warrant stated. It said a detective saw Glover walk into Taylor’s apartment in January and leave a short time later with a package. He then drove straight to a “known drug house.”

The affidavit did not document any activity regarding Taylor or her residence in March.

Attorneys for Taylor’s family have said the police information was wrong and outdated. Any mail Glover may have received at her apartment would have been innocuous items such as clothes or shoes, they said.

Her family has said she once dated Glover but wasn’t involved in the alleged drug operation. She had prohibited him from bringing that aspect of his life into her personal life.

When police banged on the door that night, Walker told investigators his first thought was that it was Glover. Taylor had dated him during their on-and-off seven-year relationship, and he was concerned there might be trouble.

So he grabbed a gun that he legally owns, his attorney said. By the time the police gunfire subsided, Taylor lay beside him bleeding profusely. There were bullet holes everywhere.

One key area of dispute in the case is whether police announced their presence before breaking down the door. They found no drugs or money in Taylor’s apartment.

The road to justice may be long and complicated, her family says, but they’re not giving up.

CNN’s Scott Glover, Collette Richards, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin contributed to this report

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