Are Officers Lying to Justify Warrants?
By: Emily Wang
The day before Breonna Taylor was killed, a detective had told the judge that Breonna’s boyfriend had been smuggling drugs and large sums of cash into her house through mysterious packages. A detective, Joshua Jaynes, requested a “no-knock” warrant that permitted officers to search her house without knocking so they could catch any drug dealers.
But after searching the house, they found nothing. Many people have protested that these kinds of warrants may not have been made by acknowledging the full story.
This week, federal prosecutors said that Jaynes had lied about the incident. There wasn’t any evidence to back it up, and the postal inspector noted that they had not received any items that had to be delivered to Ms. Taylor’s house.
“It happens far more often than people think,” said Joseph C. Patituce, a defense lawyer. “We are talking about a document that allows police to come into the homes of people, oftentimes minorities, at all times of night and day.”
According to the Justice Department, warrants signed by judges are not the most reliable, since the police often exaggerate their claims to cover up the truth.
Unfortunately, incidents like this have happened multiple times in the past. An elderly woman named Kathryn Johnston has been brutally shot in the head after police officers came into her house. According to the New York times, she had been accused of dealing drugs after an officer lied to save himself. The officer, Fabian Sheats, declared that she had over a kilogram of cocaine hidden in her house.
After a search warrant was signed, officers barged into her house. Ms. Johnston picked up a firearm, the one she stored for defense, and shot it at the officers. Three of them were injured. Ms. Johnston was shot in the head and killed. However, they did not discover any traces of cocaine hidden in her house.
In another instance, judges sentenced a detective to two and a half years in prison after prosecutors accused them of lying about a man smuggling drugs in his trunk to justify the search of the man’s room.
In Ms. Taylor’s old boyfriend’s case, another lawyer had contributed to the lies told. They said that Ms. Taylor’s old boyfriend used Ms. Taylor’s address as his “currently home address.”
Detective Jaynes revealed that he did not personally check with the postal office about the mail. He had asked one of the sergeants, who told him that multiple packages were being sent to Ms. Taylor’s house.
“I had no reason to lie in this case,” said Jaynes, referring to when he was almost fired last year.
But detectives have also found that the sergeant told him twice that he did not know of any packages sent to Ms. Taylor’s house.
The judge, Mary Shaw, declined all claims made against the warrant, but the court’s decision may soon change. Soon, there will be a reelection for the judge, and Judge Shaw will have to defend her position from 17 other people.