A day before police shot dead Breonna Taylor in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment, detectives tried to convince a judge that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend could be using her house to hide money and drugs. It was made.
Detective Joshua Jaynes said his ex-boyfriend had sent packages to Taylor’s apartment, and he claimed he had evidence. I asked for a no-knock warrant. This allowed police to barge into Ms. Taylor’s home late at night before the drug dealer had a chance to wash down the evidence or escape. The judge signed the warrant.
But this week, federal prosecutors said Detective Janes lied. It wasn’t clear if the ex-boyfriend had received the package at Taylor’s home. In a new criminal complaint filed in federal court amid growing anger over Taylor’s death, prosecutors said Jaynes had met with another detective in the garage to lie and mislead the FBI and their colleagues. He said he agreed with the story of telling things to cover up, a statement police made to justify an investigation.
Amid protests over Ms. Taylor’s murder, much attention has been focused on whether the two officers who shot her will be charged. It highlights the problems that can arise when a judge authorizes an investigation based on facts exaggerated or fabricated by the police.
“It happens a lot more often than people think,” said Joseph C. Pattis, an Ohio defense attorney and former prosecutor. “We’re talking about documents that allow the police to enter the homes of people, often minorities, at any time of the day or night.
Taylor is far from the first person to die in a law enforcement operation that prosecutors admitted was a false police statement.
houston prosecutor defendant A police officer who falsely claimed that an informant bought heroin from his home to obtain a search warrant in 2019. After police killed two of his people who lived there in a shootout in which they attempted to carry out the warrant, then-police chief Art Acevedo said the affidavit in the warrant contained “material falsehoods or lies.” said there was. to attack. Officers have pleaded not guilty and the case is still pending.
In Atlanta, in 2006, police officers broke into a home and shot and killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston. This was after cops lied in a search warrant affidavit that an informant bought drugs from her home.
Also in Baltimore last month, a federal judge said prosecutors lied in a search warrant affidavit about finding drugs in a man’s truck to justify a search of the man’s motel room. The official sentenced the detective to two and a half years’ imprisonment.
Judges often rely solely on the affidavits of police officers applying for warrants. That means police can conduct potentially dangerous searches on innocent people before their affidavits are challenged.
The Supreme Court ruled that if police knowingly or recklessly included false statements in search warrant affidavits, or otherwise without good reason, the evidence recovered would be inadmissible in court. When a defense attorney challenges a search warrant in court, false statements are often exposed if arrested.
Defendants have agreed to plead guilty on other grounds, so many of the inadequate affidavits may not get close scrutiny, according to legal analysts.
In Louisville, Thomas Clay, the attorney involved in the Breonna Taylor case, knows the matter from both sides.
Clay and colleague David Ward once represented amputee and tiny Susan Jean King, who was accused of shooting her ex-boyfriend dead in her home and throwing his body into a river. acted as a person
“This was his theory,” Ward said of the detective who took on the case as an unsolved case nearly eight years after the murder. It was physically impossible to pick it up and take this big 189-pound man and throw him over the bridge into the Kentucky River.”
In at least one of the search warrant’s affidavits, King’s attorneys alleged that detectives falsely implied that the 22-caliber bullet found on the floor of King’s home was one of the bullets that killed the man. claimed.
But King’s lawyers said it was already established that the man died from a 22-caliber bullet lodged in his head and was unable to get out, and they found the detectives’ claims implausible. The judge agreed, saying the detective omitted evidence of innocence from his search warrant affidavit.
Nonetheless, Ms. King filed Alford’s petition for second-degree manslaughter, and she pleaded guilty while maintaining her innocence — when another man pleaded guilty to the killing, she was sentenced to five years. She was eventually exonerated.
In 2020, the state agreed to pay King a $750,000 settlement against malicious indictments. Through his lawyer at the time, the detective, who by that time had retired from the military, denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Clay now represents Mr. Jaynes, a detective accused of lying to obtain a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home.
“Search warrants are always fair game to be scrutinized and should be scrutinized,” Clay said, but declined to discuss Jaynes’ case.
Jaynes pleaded not guilty to federal charges on Thursday and said he relied in part on information from another officer when he prepared his affidavit.
Officers who provide false information under oath when preparing affidavits for search warrants because they believe they already know the outcome of the case but do not yet have sufficient evidence to support the warrant. , Clay said, could take a shortcut.
“The most extreme example is when they’re under oath but they’re just being unfaithful,” Clay said.
Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the consequences of lying on a search warrant could be severe.
“It is both tragic and foolish to see police falsifying information to obtain a search warrant,” Davis said. “All of these search warrants could turn into a disaster.”
In Taylor’s case, prosecutors said another detective, Kelly Goodlett, also filed an affidavit, saying that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend recently used her address as his “current address.” You said you added misleading information. Home Address. Prosecutors charged Detective Goodlet with conspiring with Mr. Jaynes to tamper with the warrant.
Jaynes admits he did not personally verify information about the package with a postal inspector. believed to be sufficient for
“I had no reason to lie about this,” he said. told the Louisville Police Department It was considering his dismissal last year.
But in the federal indictment against Mr. Jaynes, prosecutors said the allegation was also false and that the sergeant actually had no knowledge of the packages being sent to Mr. Taylor’s home twice to Mr. Jaynes. Former boyfriend.
Judge Mary Shaw, the judge who signed the warrant for Taylor’s apartment, declined to comment through an assistant on Friday, saying she could be called to testify in a criminal case against officers. Judge Shaw will be re-elected in November. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported Of the 17 sitting judges on the Jefferson Circuit, she was the only one to face a challenger for her seat.
Susan C. Beachy Contributed to research.