Do your job, Tom Wine: Investigate the search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s home

Oct 21, 2020 at 12:21 pm
Ted Shouse
Ted Shouse

On Oct. 7, the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit , or PIU, released its file on the Breonna Taylor case. The police’s internal investigation concluded that Det. Joshua Jaynes, the officer who obtained the search warrant for Taylor’s home, made “misleading” statements to the presiding judge. The PIU detectives thought Jaynes’ actions should be reviewed for possible criminal conduct; lying to a judge to get a search warrant is a crime.

Under normal circumstances the investigation and prosecution of any crime in Jefferson County is the job of the commonwealth’s attorney, currently Tom Wine. But, because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, Wine declared that a conflict of interest existed and handed off the investigation of the police officers involved to Attorney General Daniel Cameron. We now know that Cameron did not present any facts involving the search warrant to the grand jury. Cameron’s assistant simply told jurors that the officers were acting in “good faith.”

The day after the release of the PIU file, Wine made this statement: “The Attorney General’s office has finished its review, and the full PIU file has been made public. While I am reviewing the PIU file, no decision will be made whether Mr. Kenneth Walker’s original charges should be dismissed with prejudice or again presented to a grand jury...” Excuse me? Kenneth Walker?

On the day it finally becomes probable that a police officer misled a judge to get the warrant that led to Taylor’s death, the commonwealth’s attorney tells us that he is debating whether to re-indict Walker — the man who fired a single warning shot in defense of himself and his girlfriend. No mention of Jaynes? LMPD detectives in the PIU think he may have committed a crime, why not let a grand jury hear that? PIU detectives found that Jaynes told the judge who signed that warrant that a postal inspector had confirmed that Taylor was receiving suspicious packages.

That wasn’t true. The PIU detectives believe those actions may be crimes. In the face of these revelations, how can Wine issue a statement saying that he’s still considering charging Walker? Wine’s statement went on to say that he is waiting for the FBI to complete its investigation before deciding whether to act on any issue about this case. Let’s put this FBI business to rest once and for all. There’s a concept in the law called “dual sovereignty.” It means that you can be prosecuted in both state and federal court for the same conduct. Gregory Bush, the alleged shooter in the Kroger shooting from 2018 is being prosecuted in exactly this way right now in Louisville. Why wait any longer for the FBI to solve what is a Jefferson County problem?

Our elected prosecutor is the person to clean it up. The original conflict of interest no longer exists; there are no charges currently pending against Walker. There is no reason for Wine to avoid investigating the facts surrounding how that search warrant was obtained. And if the PIU detectives believe a crime was committed, the case should be presented to a Jefferson County grand jury. We don’t know if a crime was committed, that’s for a trial jury to decide. But investigation by our prosecutor seems warranted.

When Tom Wine first ran for commonwealth’s attorney, he said that, despite his 20-year tenure as a judge, the job he always wanted was commonwealth’s attorney. Well Mr. Wine, you’ve got your dream job — now do it. Investigate this case

Ted Shouse has been a criminal defense lawyer for 21 years.