A man charged with running a drug syndicate was offered a plea deal in July if he would name Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman who had been killed by police in her Louisville, Ky., apartment, as a member of his alleged criminal gang, according to the man’s attorney.
Taylor was shot dead March 13 by white Louisville Metro Police officers who had broken into her apartment at night using a “no-knock” warrant. Her death has led to nationwide protests against police brutality.
The purpose of the raid on Taylor’s home was to find evidence linking her to an ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, a convicted felon with a history of drug trafficking, according to court documents.
Police didn’t find any.
Now it appears prosecutors attempted to tie Taylor to a life of crime after her death.
Glover was arrested the same night Taylor was killed, in a separate raid on an alleged drug house about 10 miles away. Police say they “recovered approximately 119.032 grams (4.2 ounces) of cocaine and over 10 dosage units of opiates,” according to court records.
Glover’s attorney, Scott Barton, told NPR that as part of a lengthy plea negotiation, the Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office offered Glover a deal that included naming Taylor as a member of his “organized crime syndicate.”
Barton said that he no longer has a copy of the initial plea offer but that his client “immediately rejected anything with her name in it.”
“He felt terrible about the whole thing. That’s not a secret. And, you know, any type of plea that had her involved in any way was not going to be acceptable to him,” Barton said.
Based on the charges brought after the search, Glover could face up to a decade in prison. It would be his third felony conviction.
A posthumous “co-defendant”
The proposed plea agreement was first reported by WDRB-TV in Louisville.
The station said the July 13 plea offer listed Taylor as a “co-defendant” of Glover’s, even though she had been dead four months. The deal required Glover to acknowledge that he, Taylor and others engaged in organized crime by trafficking large amounts of drugs “into the Louisville community.”
Had he accepted, the station reported, Glover could have seen his 10-year prison sentence drop to only probation.
Barton said he and his client received four or five plea offers in all. “And it was the same outcome in every case,” he said.
“It wasn’t like there was an incentive” to name Taylor, Barton explained. “Like if Glover puts her name in there, then we’ll give you a better deal. It was the same deal regardless.”
Still, in more than 20 years experience, Barton said he has never seen a person posthumously identified as a co-defendant. He called it “very unique.”
“I’ve not run across this before,” he said. “I would not call it something that’s normal.”
Prosecutors say the plea offer was just a ‘draft’
Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said in a statement that the offer that included Taylor’s name was a “draft” and part of ongoing negotiations with Glover. He added that drafts are never part of the court record and are not court documents.
“You make offers and you get counteroffers,” Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office told NPR.
“That was just the first shot,” Cooke said, adding that the final plea sheet given to Glover and his lawyer does not include Taylor as a co-defendant.
“We were aware of the information in the warrants as well as the jail phone calls where Mr. Glover implicated Ms. Taylor in his criminal activity,” Wine said. “When I was advised of the discussions, out of respect for Ms. Taylor, I directed that Ms. Breonna Taylor’s name be removed.”
Cooke went a step further.
He conceded that the prosecuting attorney who named Taylor as one of several of Glover’s co-defendants had gone too far. “It was a mistake,” he admitted.
“He mischaracterized her,” Cooke said, not naming the prosecutor. “He should not have said ‘co-defendant.’ He should have ‘co-conspirator.’ That would have been more appropriate.”
Cooke said the office does not posthumously indict individuals.
Like Barton, Cooke noted that all offers presented to Glover included the same prison term — 10 years — regardless of the mention of Taylor.
‘Read this bulls***’
Sam Aguiar, the lawyer who represents the Taylor family in a wrongful death lawsuit, says the plea offer was an attempt by Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine to tarnish the 26-year-old EMT’s reputation.
Taylor had no criminal record.
“Read this bulls***,” Aguiar wrote next to a screenshot of the document in a post on Facebook.
“Breonna Taylor is not a ‘co-defendant’ in a criminal case. She’s dead,” he wrote. “Way to try and attack a woman when she’s not even here to defend herself.”
“This goes to show how desperate Tom Wine … is,” Aguiar wrote, “to justify the wrongful search of Breonna Taylor’s home, her killing and arrest of [her boyfriend] Kenneth Walker.”
Walker was with Taylor the night officers entered the apartment in search of drugs and money with their guns drawn. Terrified by the loud crashing and chaos that followed, Walker grabbed his licensed gun and fired, allegedly hitting one officer in the leg.
That gunshot prompted the volley of bullets that killed Taylor.
By the end of the violent night, Walker had been arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer. But the charges were eventually dropped.
On Tuesday, Walker announced he is suing the city of Louisville, the Louisville Metro Police Department and others to prevent future prosecution under Kentucky’s “stand your ground” law.
“I was raised by a good family. I am a legal gun owner and I would never knowingly shoot at a police officer,” he said at a news conference.
In fact, Walker’s lawyer Steve Romines adamantly contests statements by police that the 27-year-old fired the shot that wounded the officer.
Romines noted that there were two distinct bouts of gunfire more than a minute apart and that Officer Jonathan Mattingly was reported to be wounded after the second volley.
“And yet the police have alleged all along that [Walker’s] one shot somehow hit officer Mattingly. We absolutely do not concede that fact,” he said.
“We think it is much more likely that one of the 35 to 45 shots fired by LMPD is what struck Officer Mattingly,” Romines said.
Romines said they are waiting on a ballistics report.
Walker is also seeking damages in part “for the trauma, humiliation, indignity, physical pain, mental suffering, or mental anguish he suffered,” according to the complaint.