It took Louisville, Kentucky, more than six months to charge one police officer with a count of “endangerment” in the killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. Taylor, a Black woman, an EMT, a sister, and a daughter was asleep in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when police—using a battering ram—burst into her apartment after midnight. The unarmed Taylor died after being hit no fewer than six times by officers’ bullets. Questions have surrounded the long and dubious investigation in the months leading up to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement of almost no charges for the officers involved.
NBC News is reporting that newly released documents concerning the internal investigation by the Louisville police show a department working overtime to justify not simply the killing of Taylor, but the entire operation that led to their raiding Taylor’s home that tragic night. The documents also show that internal affairs were forced to give an overview of their findings in the middle of May to the head of the Criminal Interdiction Division, Maj. Kim Burbrink. Burbrink was the officer overseeing the unit being investigated. Internal affairs officers objected to the idea of Burbrink being present, but were overruled.
One of the documents shows that “an investigator from the Public Integrity Unit, often dubbed the department's internal affairs team, began examining pictures and text messages from Walker's phone in late May.” That’s two months after police officers murdered Taylor. Why two months later? Besides the fact that Taylor’s murder had become national news, it turns out that the police investigators’ interest in Walker’s phone coincided with their own internal affairs division beginning to find “serious problems with the warrant for Taylor's home and how it was executed.”
Specifically, police Detective Joshua Jaynes swore an affidavit that he had spoken with a U.S. postal inspector to verify that a man who was living across town from Taylor, Jamarcus Glover, was receiving packages at Taylor’s home. This was the basis for the warrant that allowed them to raid and kill Taylor. It turns out Jaynes did not speak with any postal inspector. At all. In fact, the documents say that Louisville police have a bad working relationship with the inspector’s office because of “previous incidents.”
Shively police Sgt. Tim Sayler told investigators that about a month after Taylor was killed, Jaynes was still inquiring about whether or not the Glover packages were indeed being delivered to Taylor’s address.
"You wrote a search warrant on it saying it was delivered there, but now you're asking a month later?" Sayler told investigators, describing his thoughts when Jaynes asked about the packages after the shooting. "It looks like you're trying to cover your ass, is what it appears to me."
The NBC News report supports this narrative, with police looking intensely for any evidence to create a Taylor is no angel kind of story. According to the report, police seem to have been able to find text messages showing Walker was selling $25 worth of weed here and there—not an offense punishable by death as far as I know. The documents also show that the departments that were supposed to investigate the officers’ actions were somehow also investigating Walker and Taylor. NBC had a veteran officer of the Los Angeles police department, Tyler Izen, take a look at this investigation.
"Some of this is just astounding," Izen said after reviewing the Louisville police memo. "I do not know why you would have an internal affairs investigator also investigating the crime, because all it does is take away your credibility. It's victim-blaming all over again."
Since that announcement, a member of the grand jury has sued the Kentucky attorney general for not disclosing the entire truth during those closed-door proceedings. Released grand jury transcripts have conjured up even more questions about the strange conclusions the attorney general made and the evidence presented. And while the attorney general’s handling of the case is clearly suspect, the preceding months of investigation have shown a police department and Kentucky prosecution team that seemed most interested in exonerating the officers who killed Taylor and not at all interested investigating what exactly happened that led to the murder of an innocent woman.