The truth about Breonna Taylor…
As many of you who regularly read “The Long Version” know full well, I was a high-profile, criminal defense attorney for nearly 20-years prior to my ignominious circumstances surrounding the end of my practice. I have, since, gone into the newspaper business much to the chagrin of many of you. When a lawyer, I regularly tried murder cases and devised strategies to attempt to fend off allegations of murder.
In the last chore, law related, in which I engaged, and this was after my being disbarred, I was hired by a lawyer in Clarksville, Tennessee as a consultant on a murder case he was defending. I assisted in his preparation and conduction of Voir Dire, the process during which lawyers question veniremen (what one is before being sworn into a petit jury) toward hoping to get a qualified jury sworn and impaneled to hear his client’s case.
I have given you this two-paragraph résumé, if you will, to provide some context for this piece which will be published in volume 132, No. 41 of the Jackson Times-Voice. When it comes to cases like Breonna Taylor’s, where someone is killed and someone else, either is or isn’t, charged for having caused that death, I am way more than an in-sophisticate regarding the process.
This brings me to Breonna Taylor, the EMT from Louisville, Kentucky, who was killed during a flawed entry into her apartment, on a “no-knock” warrant, where she ended up being shot in a hail of gun-fire. One of the three shooters (all three of which were Metropolitan Louisville police officers) has been presented to a grand jury and indicted for having wantonly endangered Breonna Taylor’s neighbors at the apartment complex, more probably than not. None of the three has been charged with shooting or killing Breonna Taylor.
This has stirred up international outrage. This has caused protest and demonstration in cities across the country and even internationally. This has caused a hail-storm of disseminated “misinformation.”
I overhead a resident of our fair county comment, “Taylor wasn’t really an EMT at all; she was a drug dealer, according to Kentucky’s Attorney General (Daniel Cameron).” This bit of information was quite shocking to me and completely incongruent with the information I had either read or seen. Obviously, I had to fact-check it.
Before I give you the result of the fact-check on Breonna Taylor’s being a drug dealer, I want to tell you this. At “common law,” which is the period in this country before we codified our crimes, it was a defense to murder that “the person needed killing.” An aspect of that common-law defense still exists, though the entire defense doesn’t.
“Self-defense” is a remnant of the common-law defense. If a person is armed and threatening you to an extent which makes you fearful for either your life or the life of a third-party then you may employ deadly force and not be convicted of murder.
One place where that defense is most strident is where someone breaks into your home. Most states permit you to assume the intruder is there to do you deadly harm.
Kentucky’s “Stand Your Ground” defense is a “sort-of” the victim needed killing scenario. If you believe you are to be subjected to an assault or worse, Kentucky doesn’t require you to retreat. You may stand your ground and defend yourself, even with deadly force.
Obviously, you shouldn’t be getting legal advice from a newspaper editor in the Appalachia mountains. Check with a licensed Kentucky lawyer about the proper application of either “Self Defense” or “Stand Your Ground,” before seeking to employ force, if you hope either will protect you from criminal sanction.
The point I am making is simply this…now police departments, after the question of the propriety of the force applied arises and whether it was appropriate under the circumstances, are seeking to rely on a common law defense it routinely, and even presently, rebukes. Now police forces are trying to call on the common law defense that its victim, “needed to be killed.”
Louisville is attempting to use it in Breonna Taylor’s case. “Yeah, we entered the house of a ‘soft suspect’ on a faulty and flawed, “no-knock” warrant and shot an unarmed woman in her own apartment, but she was a drug-dealer. Translation, “she needed killing.”
Why do my fellow Breathittonians believe Taylor “needed killing?” According to county conventional wisdom, because she wasn’t an EMT at all, but rather a drug dealer. Wouldn’t that make her being killed in her own home much more palatable? If only it were true.
The problem…she wasn’t a drug dealer. She was an EMT.
Even had she been as Breathitt county wants to describe, and under the same exact context as Daniel Cameron set forth in his press conference, would we still think she “needed killing,” if she had lived in the white suburbs and had been a white woman? That is a completely different question, isn’t it?
The answer is dis-quietening. I don’t believe the police would have settled on that line of defense, had they shot a white woman in the white suburbs.
So what about this she was really a drug dealer. According to nationally published columnist with the Washington Post, Radley Balko, the belief she was actually a drug dealer is misguided, misplaced, and wholly untrue.
In an article entitled, Correcting misinformation about Breonna Taylor, published September 24, 2020, Mr. Balko investigated that very question, in and amongst various other misconceptions being actively circulated in the case which have been spread around communities (like ours) as Gospel truths. I suppose it lets us sleep at night. According to his published fact-check, there is no evidence of her having before engaged in any criminal behavior, crime, or activity.
In that article, according to friends, family, and Taylor’s own social media posts, Taylor was an on again, off again girlfriend to a man named Glover. Mr. Glover was the ex-boyfriend involved in the case comprising the basis of the warrant. Taylor had bailed him out of jail, more than once.
Taylor’s family thought Glover was bad for Breonna (Man, were they ever right) and much preferred Mr. Walker. Mr. Walker was Taylor’s present boyfriend in the apartment the morning the warrant was executed who fired on police. Walker has related he thought the policemen were breaking into the apartment to harm either Ms. Taylor or him, or both.
Walker was arrested at the scene. His charges have been dropped.
One incident listed in the warrant, being “held out” as implicating Breonna Taylor, with Glover’s criminal activity is her renting a car and lending it to Glover in December of 2016. Glover then loaned it to a man found dead in the car. Police in that case investigated it and cleared Taylor in the death.
Another incident occurred two months prior to the raid. Glover picked-up a package delivered to Taylor’s home. The police claim the postal inspector told them the package was suspicious. The postal inspector doesn’t remember it that way. He claims to have no record of ever having told police that.
Then there was a leaked police memo claiming Glover told the police he stored money at Taylor’s apartment. The police found no money in the apartment when they raided and searched it.
Glover has publicly said Taylor had nothing to do with his drug dealing. He persisted in the claim even when prosecutors offered Glover a plea bargain to reduced charges if he would say Taylor was involved with his drug dealing. Prosecutors when confronted with the written plea bargain offer have said that was, “just a draft.”
Bottom-line…Breonna Taylor wasn’t a drug dealer. She was an EMT. She was where she had a legal right to be. She was murdered by Louisville’s finest.
Quit lying! It’s a disservice to justice, to truth, to democracy, and to the memory of a fine person.
Here’s the lynchpin proof she wasn’t a drug dealer. Louisville settled her family's wrongful death suit against the city for 12-million dollars. Cities don’t pay drug-dealers’ families, or even suspected drug dealers’ families, 12-million dollars to settle wrongful death suits.
That check for 12-million dollars is called, in the legal community, a rectangular apology. It is one of the more salient admissions of guilt you will ever see from any city. Ask our mayor.
If drug dealers’ families could get 12-million dollars for their family member getting killed by police executing a search warrant, how many lawsuits would get filed each year? How many large cities, or small ones for that matter, would be left unable to keep out of bankruptcy?
That’s a lot of cheddar to pay a drug dealer’s family. Take it for what ever you find it worth but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!