Recollections by Richard Bleil
Today (as I write this blog), the NPR reported that one of the officers fabricated a line in the request for a no-knock warrant that led to Breonna Taylor’s shooting death. The warrant covered two locations in the search for her friend who had been found at the first location before executing the warrant at Breonna’s home. On breaking down the door, her boyfriend fired a gun hitting one of the officers before they announced themselves (as I would have done as well). They returned fire, hitting her boyfriend and killing her. It was a tragedy that resulted in an examination of the use and tactics of no-knock warrants and well-deserved criticism of the general police agencies nationwide and fueling the BLM protests across America. This same former officer, who appears to be cooperating with the “Justice” Department, is also implicated in an attempted cover-up with another officer when news and criticism of the tragedy began spreading onto the national stage.
The obvious question in my mind, the one that has been left out of the NPR article (and likely will never be exposed) is the reason for the fabrication in the first place. Was it a personal vendetta of some sort? Or perhaps race based? Or is it possible that the officer was just so certain of his belief that there has been a crime?
This is a dangerous conviction. If it cannot be proven, or sufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the desire to just get them has led many in law enforcement to illegal acts. As I was writing the forensic science program for my university (a true gem of a program with a lot of interest in the forensic field that was misunderstood and cut by the administration), I went to a forensic science retreat put on by one of the state’s forensic science labs. It was a great week-long program which led to my concept of a forensic science “show” that we used to put on at the university every summer until my dean decided to give control of the program to her friend. At the end of the week, we took a trip to tour another forensic science lab in an adjourning state. Unfortunately, they were mid-crisis by the time I had arrived.
There had been an abduction and murder. The police took the suspect vehicle and it had been sitting in the forensic bay for days as forensic scientists scoured it, inch by inch, for any proof that the victim had been in it. They searched for blood, hair, fingernail pieces, skin; anything they could find, but to no avail. They had the victim’s hair, blood and other tissues ready to match up with anything they found, but without this proof, it was unlikely they could convict this man. The director of the lab was certain that this man was guilty, and he was particularly disturbed by the gruesome nature of what had happened. The mistake the director made was becoming emotionally involved with the case.
The day before our arrival, the car in the crime was scheduled to be removed, and returned to the suspect. That day, uncharacteristically for him, the director arrived at the lab very early before anybody else. When people began arriving to work, he informed them that he had found a tiny droplet of blood on the wall of the space for the glove box, very small, and in a very obscure location where clearly it could have been missed. But it wasn’t missed, because it wasn’t there prior to his arrival. He was so desperate to take the suspect off of the streets that he placed the droplet in the car to be discovered.
Is this what happened in the Breonna case? I’ve written about the Breonna incident before (at least I think I did, but I can’t seem to find the blog). I understand the need to sometimes “surprise” suspects so they don’t have time to flee, but I don’t understand why the second warrant was executed when they found what they were seeking in the first. But now to discover that the reason presented to the judge had been falsified makes it all so much worse. As the director of my own forensic lab, I used to remind my people that we are not in the race. It’s not our job to support the defense or the prosecuting attorneys, but simply to examine the evidence provided and report the findings. When you’re emotionally involved, you’re far more likely to do something stupid like lying to a judge.