LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Attorneys representing Breonna Taylor’s family and one of the LMPD officers involved in the case agree on one thing: It was Mayor Greg Fischer’s office that was pushing a neighborhood revitalization project that ultimately led to Taylor’s death.
The family of LMPD Det. Joshua Jaynes, who received a pre-termination letter last week from Interim Chief Yvette Gentry, wrote that his Place Based Investigations squad was following Fischer’s orders by investigating properties on Elliott Avenue, one of which was owned by Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover.
Originally, Fischer denied the claims that his administration was involved until WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters obtained documents stating the Office for Community Development was working with LMPD on the Elliott Avenue Project with a “place-based approach.”
The document is from the fall of 2019, months before LMPD said it created a crime map determining its focus on Elliott Avenue. Glover was accused of operating a “trap house” at 2424 Elliott Avenue; that investigation led detectives to Taylor’s home on March 13, the night she died.
Posting on a fundraiser’s website, Jaynes’ family member wrote, “Josh and his unit were given direct orders by the Mayor’s office to focus on high crime areas which included the Elliott Avenue corridor.”
The statement went on to say that Jaynes had reservations about the task, given the unit was newly-formed and that countless hours of surveillance then led them to other locations.
“Josh’s integrity has been in question because of a project that was placed upon this unit by the Mayor,” the statement continued.
Jaynes’ attorney, Thomas Clay, reinforced that claim in a letter to Gentry on Monday after she met with Jaynes for a pre-termination meeting.
“You are also undoubtedly aware that the Mayor’s Office was deeply involved in the whole operation,” Clay wrote, adding that a representative from the mayor’s office, Joshua Watkins, attended regular meetings and was kept fully informed on the progress of the investigation.
“In fact, we believe the Mayor was directly involved in selecting this area for close scrutiny because of the drug activity being conducted at the ‘trap house’ located at 2424 Elliott Avenue, and other houses in the neighborhood which were vacant,” Clay continued.
In interviews with the FBI, LMPD Col. Lavita Chavous said Watkins was present at regular meetings with the LMPD’s Place Based squad investigating Glover. Chavous also told the FBI that there were constant disputes between Watkins and the officers because Watkins insisted that he be involved in the decisions.
Chavous explained they chose the Elliott Avenue location after creating maps of high-crime areas.
WAVE 3 News has acquired numerous documents through open records requests where Elliott Avenue appears as a place of interest, well before LMPD said those crime maps where created. Some are written by Watkins, others by other city employees.
In an email dated September 2019, the former director of Develop Louisville, Mary-Ellen Wiederwohl, also talked about the Elliott Avenue corridor.
“Great progress on Elliott Avenue,” Wiederwohl wrote to two city employees. “How are we communicating to neighbors about the demo and what comes next?”
That email chain contained a list of 10 addresses; eight of which were on Elliott Avenue.
The mayor’s office has repeatedly denied its office had given any specific information to LMPD to focus on Glover’s alleged “trap house.”
Less than a month after Taylor’s death, the city acquired more properties on Elliott Avenue. The city now owns the home from which Glover was accused of operating.
Jaynes’ attorney said there are many questions Fischer and his administration should be required to answer.
A spokeswoman for Fischer’s office refused to comment on the matter, citing state law “precludes comments from any persons in Louisville Metro Government about the allegations in these cases.”
Click here to read the full statement by the Jaynes family.