The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Breonna Taylor’s ex was offered a plea deal that said she was part of a ‘crime syndicate,’ family’s attorney says

FILE - Protesters participate in the Good Trouble Tuesday march for Breonna Taylor, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. A lawyer for Breonna Taylor's family said a plea deal was offered to an accused drug trafficker that would have forced him to implicate Taylor, who was killed by police in a raid on her home in March. Louisville's top prosecutor acknowledged the existence of the document but said it was part of preliminary plea negotiations with a man charged with illegal drug trafficking and not an attempt to smear Taylor.(Amy Harris/Invision/AP File)
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For months, as Breonna Taylor has risen to nationwide prominence as a symbol of racial injustice and police impunity — her name uttered by crowds of demonstrators and top politicians, her face appearing on banners, basketball jerseys, and magazine covers — Louisville prosecutors have continued to prosecute her ex-boyfriend, whose suspected drug trafficking led police to raid her apartment and fatally shoot her.

Taylor’s family and lawyers have insisted she had nothing to do with Jamarcus Glover’s alleged crimes. With little evidence against her and no previous criminal record, they say, she was only pulled into the case through her ties to Glover, whom she had cut off before her killing.

Yet in July, Louisville prosecutors offered Glover a plea bargain — one that could turn a possible 10-year prison sentence into a probation — that said Taylor had participated in his “organized crime syndicate,” according to records first reported by WDRB television on Monday.

Glover’s attorney, Scott Barton, told The Washington Post that prosecutors were fine providing an alternate version that did not name Taylor. They did not suggest that mentioning Taylor would lead to a better deal, he said.

But Glover told the Louisville Courier-Journal in a Monday night interview that officials wanted him to falsely impugn Taylor, and Sam Aguiar, a Louisville attorney representing Taylor’s family in a wrongful-death lawsuit, slammed the offer, calling it part of a smear campaign.

Aguiar said the offer shows local officials are “desperate” to justify Taylor’s killing: “Shame on that office,” Aguiar wrote on Facebook. “She’s dead. Way to try and attack a woman when she’s not even here to defend herself.”

Tom Wine, the Jefferson County commonwealth’s attorney, argued that the offer was a draft brought up during negotiations and denied that Taylor would ever have been indicted as a “co-defendant,” as she is described under “Facts of the case” in a photo of the plea offer that Aguiar shared on social media. A spokesman for Wine did not dispute the document’s veracity but said it was quickly amended.

“Our office has not and does not posthumously indict any person who is deceased,” Wine said in a statement Monday. “When I was advised of the discussions … I directed that Ms. Breonna Taylor’s name be removed.”

Glover, 30, who has vouched for Taylor’s innocence, failed to show up to court to accept any plea deal. But news of the offer has inflamed tensions as Glover’s case — and by proxy, the events that led up to Taylor’s killing — continues to make its way through the courts, and protesters continue demanding accountability.

By now, the details of what happened to Taylor on March 13 are well-established: A young emergency room technician and aspiring nurse, she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep in her apartment when they heard someone coming in through the door.

Three plainclothes officers — Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, all White — had entered on a no-knock search warrant, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. After Walker let off one shot, fearing the police were intruders, the officers responded with more than 20, including multiple that hit Taylor and killed her.

Less examined in the accounts has been Glover’s role. He and Taylor had been seeing each other intermittently for years, according to the New York Times, and she paid or arranged bail for him several times and remained in contact with Glover as he was secretly surveilled by police.

GPS trackers on Glover’s car showed him visiting her apartment, and police photos showed her at a suspected drug house. After he was arrested in the hours following Taylor’s death, he told several people in calls from jail that he had left thousands of dollars at her home, according to the Courier-Journal.

Still, Aguiar — as well as many activist leaders and the Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union — said police lacked enough evidence to conduct a raid on Taylor’s apartment complex, especially with a no-knock warrant. When they did enter her residence, critics have said, police failed to follow key protocols, such as staging an ambulance nearby, that could have saved her.

A property log indicates police did not find money or drugs at Taylor’s home after the raid, according to the Courier-Journal.

“Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy. Period,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D) wrote on Twitter.

Aguiar, who had previously accused Louisville police of going to “great lengths” to dig up Taylor’s past, said the plea fell into a larger pattern.

As part of the July 13 offer, WDRB reported, Glover would have had to attest that through late April he and several “co-defendants,” including Taylor, trafficked large quantities of drugs “into the Louisville community.”

Taylor was not mentioned as a “co-defendant” in court records or in the official plea deal presented to Glover, said Wine, the Jefferson County commonwealth’s attorney. Glover’s attorney, Barton, said prosecutors provided another version that did not name Taylor either at the same time or shortly after sending the version that called her a co-defendant. He said he could not find emails verifying the timing.

He remembers speaking with Glover about the offer naming Taylor and quickly rejecting it.

“We were never going to accept anything with Breonna’s name on it,” he told The Post.

Glover, who was last arrested on Thursday, told the Courier Journal Taylor was not involved in selling drugs.

In one jailhouse call, he said police had “no business” looking for him at her house. “At the end of the day, I know she didn’t — I know she didn’t do nothing to deserve none of this sh--," he said, according to WDRB.

Speaking to the Courier-Journal Monday from Louisville Metro Corrections, Glover objected to Wine’s characterization of the plea offer naming Taylor as just a “draft.”

“How is it a draft and they wanted me to sign it?” Glover told the newspaper. “You don’t put no draft in front of nobody.”

Aguiar also emphasized that the document could have moved forward.

“[If] Jamarcus Glover had accepted it, it would’ve been final so long as the court approved it,” he wrote in an email to The Post. “It was obviously presented to Jamarcus Glover … It is absolutely disgusting that the prosecutors went to this level.”