LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Members of Louisville Metro Council are demanding Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration release all documents related to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, including documents related to allegations that Taylor’s death is linked to a multimillion-dollar revitalization effort in the Russell neighborhood.
In a letter to Fischer made public Thursday, eight council members threatened "clear and decisive action" if the mayor refuses to release the documents in question.
In an amended lawsuit filed Sunday, attorneys representing Taylor’s family allege that her death during a Louisville Metro Police raid on her apartment in March stemmed from a "political need" to clear out homes on Elliott Avenue, an area at the heart of the city’s ongoing "Vision Russell" revitalization plan.
Taylor was shot and killed by police during the raid on her apartment near Pleasure Ridge Park, but a home at 2424 Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood was also raided as part of the same drug investigation. Taylor's ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, was arrested.
Attorney's allege a new police unit, called Place-Based Investigations, was tasked "with focusing on certain areas which needed to be cleared for real estate development."
"I was shocked when I read the allegations," Metro Council President David James said.
During a briefing Thursday near the Elliot Avenue property in question, Fischer said he was "dumbfounded" to see the Vision Russell project linked to Taylor’s death.
"I had never thought about any type of connection like that before," Fischer said. "Our immediate response was they were absurd; they were outrageous. There was no basis in fact to them. The attorney did not present any basis in fact, either, but they’re just throwing things at the wall, I guess, to see what would stick."
Fischer said the city’s economic development agencies identified Elliott Avenue as a project for redevelopment because of the amount of vacant and abandoned properties there, calling the street a "hot spot for crime." But the mayor said no one from his administration had direct conversations with LMPD about 2424 Elliott Avenue before the raid.
"Elliott Avenue was part of a Place-Based investigation," Fischer said. "In terms of any specific property on that, there was no conversation with my office on that. But it would be logical for LMPD to be talking about specific locations that they suspect of criminal activity."
The city notified the property owner of 2424 Elliott Avenue that the home could be considered a public nuisance because of drug activity there. On January 2, 2020 WDRB News witnessed a drug bust at the home.
In late January, Fischer said the owner asked if the city had programs to purchase it or accept the property as a donation. As previously mentioned, Glover was arrested during another raid there in March. The property was deeded over to the city in June.
When pressed by reporters, Fischer said the sole reason the address was targeted because of criminal activity.
Councilman Kevin Kramer, the minority caucus chair, said Council’s hope is that there will be documents that prove the allegations made by attorneys for Taylor’s family are false.
In the letter directed at the mayor, Metro Council leadership said, "The accusations your administration may have directed LMPD to act in a manner that would help to clear area for new developments, if true, would destroy any notion of compassion and would serve as a modern twisted update to the policy of redlining that you have campaigned against."
The letter to Fischer is signed by:
- Metro Council President David James
- Minority Caucus Chair Kevin Kramer
- Majority Caucus Vice Chair Mark Fox
- Minority Caucus Vice President Scott Reed
- Public Safety Committee Chair Jessica Green
- Public Safety Vice Chair James Peden
- Government Oversight and Audit Committee Chair Brent Ackerson
- Government Oversight and Audit Vice Chair Anthony Piagentini
Council members said there will be an investigation into the matter completed by Council’s Government Oversight and Audit Committee.
In response to Council’s demands, Fischer said he will release any documents that are not precluded by federal investigations into Taylor’s death.
Reading a letter from FBI Louisville, Fischer said, "the public dissemination of the investigative files for this PIU case at this time in the federal investigation would have an adverse impact on our ability to properly investigate this matter."
"I know this has taken longer than people want it to take," Fischer added. "It’s taken longer than I want it to take, as well, but that’s the way the process currently works right now so I just wish everybody would kind of go with that so that we can get to truth, that we can get to justice in this case.
"I know that Council wants the same thing. I’m sure there has to be some misunderstanding because it would be incredible to me that they would want to impede this investigation in any kind of way."
The council has given the Mayor’s office a July 23 deadline to deliver the documents.
"We need the information," James said. "There seems to be a strange set of circumstances that came together, and we need to find out why."
- Attorneys claim Breonna Taylor raid was result of 'reckless' city plan to revitalize west Louisville
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