President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has repeatedly posted misinformation online about the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman fatally shot by police in her Kentucky home last March.
Kristen Clarke is among several blue-check marks on Twitter that amplified the false claim that Ms. Taylor was lying in her bed when she was slain by police during the deadly raid. On at least one occasion, Clarke helped distort the narrative even further, erroneously stating that Taylor had been asleep in her bed when she was killed.
The facts of the case, however, indicate that Taylor was fatally shot in the hallway of her apartment after her boyfriend had shot a police officer who had busted through the door while executing a warrant.
Still, the widely-shared misinformation remains on Clarke’s Twitter feed as she awaits confirmation to become the first black woman to lead the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Clarke currently serves as the executive director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a tax-exempt charitable organization that focuses on several progressive issues such as voting rights, hate crimes, income inequality, and combating alleged racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
It's been 3 months since Louisville officers killed Breonna Taylor while she was sleeping in her bed. No arrests. No justice.
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) June 13, 2020
“It’s been 3 months since Louisville officers killed Breonna Taylor while she was sleeping in her bed,” Clarke tweeted on June 13, 2020. “No arrest. No justice. We must keep giving voice to Black women who are also victims of police violence. #SayHerName #BreonnaTaylor #Protest”
The post has generated more than 7,000 retweets.
Clarke also used the misinformation to encourage her 110,000+ Twitter followers to call Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to demand he prosecute the officers involved in Taylor’s shooting death. She posted a phone number to contact Cameron after falsely claiming Taylor had been “killed in her own bed.”
This is really helpful! I’ve been looking for ways we can take actual action for her and would love to spread the word. Is there any specific language we should be using when calling this number?
— Danielle Schmidt (@_DanniJ) June 19, 2020
In July, Clarke went on to tweet that Taylor had been “murdered in her bed at night.”
It's been 130 days since Breonna Taylor, a first responder, was murdered in her bed at night. There have been no arrests. There has been no justice.#BreonnaTaylor #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor pic.twitter.com/pRraLuJJpk
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) July 21, 2020
Between June and September, Clarke’s account posted at least seven tweets incorrectly stating that Taylor had been in her bed when police shot her five times.
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) September 9, 2020
“It’s been 180 days since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her own bed,” Clarke was still tweeting on September 9, almost six months after the incident. “Breonna’s family deserves justice. #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor”
Clarke had continued to share her inaccurate version of events throughout a season of protests significantly motivated by the perceived circumstances surrounding Taylor’s death. All the while, the misinformation directly conflicted with statements from those who were at the scene when Taylor died.
According to a CNN investigation into the shooting death, “Taylor had been watching a movie in bed together with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker when she drifted off to sleep beside him. Walker told investigators he heard banging at the door after midnight…”
Walker said the couple had awoken, but did not know who was at the door. As they scrambled to get dressed, Walker grabbed his gun, which he was reportedly licensed to carry.
“She’s yelling at the top of her lungs – and I am too at this point – who is it?” Walker recalled. “No answer. No response. No anything.”
Walker said both he and Tayler were walking down the apartment hallway toward the front door when it flew off the hinges. He said he feared for his life and thought the officers who broke down the door were intruders unlawfully entering his girlfriend’s home.
Attorneys representing Taylor’s family acknowledged Breonna “was unarmed in her hallway” when she was struck by gunfire.