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Breonna Taylor’s Death Draws Public Attention to Falsified Warrants

By: Richard Huang

On March 13th, 2020, four police officers broke into Breonna

Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, KY., and shot her to death with a

warrant containing misinformation.

The day before the incident, detective Joshua Jaynes requested a

warrant from Judge Mary Shaw in order to search for stashed drugs

in Ms. Taylor’s house. Mr. Jaynes said Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend

had been shipping packages to her apartment, and he claimed that

his proof was a postal inspector who confirmed the shipments. Mr.

Jaynes added that he needs a no-knock warrant so they could

apprehend the drug dealers more effectively. Judge Shaw then

signed off on the warrant.

The night when the tragedy happened, officers barged into Ms.

Taylor’s apartment and shot her at least five times and was found

dead before emergency personnel came.

“Breonna was a woman who was figuring everything out in her life,

who had turned a corner,” said Sam Aguiar, a lawyer representing

Ms. Taylor’s family. “Breonna was starting to live her best life.”

But a few days ago, federal prosecutors said detective Jaynes had

lied to the judge about the warrant. There is no clear evidence shown

that Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend had been receiving drug packages,

and Mr. Jaynes had never confirmed the evidence with any postal

inspectors, according to the prosecutors.

After the killing, much of the public had turned their attention to the

charges that the two officers, who shot Ms. Taylor, need to face.

However, the Justice Department was most concerned with the

falsified warrant, emphasizing the problems of issuing warrants only

based on officers’ accounts, which could be exaggerated and


“It happens far more often than people think,” said Joseph C.

Patituce, a defense lawyer and former prosecutor in Ohio. “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.”

Similar incidents had occurred in multiple cases. In Houston,

Atlanta, and Baltimore, officers had reported that they had found

evidence of drugs and requested a warrant.

“It’s tragic when you see police falsify information to obtain a

search warrant, and it is also dumb,” said Ed Davis, the former

Boston police commissioner. “Every one of those search warrants

can turn into a disaster.”

Oftentimes judges issue their warrants only based on the officers’

affidavit, which, revealed by previous cases, can be a misstatement.

“The most extreme example is when they are just dishonest, even

though they are under oath,” said Thomas Clay, a lawyer connected

to the Breonna Taylor case.




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