Kentucky officers associated with the death of Breonna Taylor in 2020 have been charged with violating her civil rights. The counts are mostly connected to the botched nature of the raid.
On Thursday, Aug. 4, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced four current and former Louisville police officers will face federal counts, regarding their procedure followed on the evening of Taylor’s death, according to CNN.
Included in the lot are detectives who secured the search warrant used to implement the raid and the former officer who blindly shot into the woman’s home: former Detective Joshua Jaynes, Detective Kelly Goodlett, Sgt. Kyle Meany, and ex-detective Brett Hankison.
On behalf of the family, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said he applauds the decision to indict the four officers.
In a statement, Crump said, “Today was a huge step toward justice. We are grateful for the diligence and dedication of the FBI and the DOJ as they investigated what led to Breonna’s murder and what transpired afterward. The justice that Breonna received today would not have been possible without the efforts of Attorney General Merrick Garland or Assistant AG for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke.”
“We hope this announcement of a guilty plea sends a message to all other involved officers that it is time to stop covering up and time to accept responsibility for their roles in causing the death of an innocent, beautiful young Black woman,” he continued. Goodlett was charged ”by information,” which typically indicates a defendant has agreed to a plead guilty.
Clarke also released a statement, saying, “Since the founding of our nation, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution has guaranteed that all people have a right to be secure in their homes, free from false warrants, unreasonable searches, and the use of unjustifiable and excessive force by the police.”
“These indictments reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and to protecting the constitutional rights of every American,” the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights concluded.
On March 13, 2020, Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was fatally shot in her Louisville apartment. Officers forced their way into her home as a part of a botched drug investigation into her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, who the officers claimed was stashing drugs at Taylor’s apartment. The breach attempt surprised both her and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. The police claimed they announced themselves and knocked on the door before engaging their forced entry, but Walker thought the pounding at the door that wakened the couple was an intruder breaking into the apartment.
He fired a shot as the door gave way. It hit Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, prompting Mattingly, Hankison and Detective Myles Cosgrove to return a barrage of gunfire.
Walker was not hit, but Taylor, who was standing behind her partner, was somehow hit five times, dying shortly afterward.
Over the last two years, the family has experienced a series of highs and lows, attempting to seek justice for the deceased.
On June 23, 2020, Hankison, the cop that shot blindly into her home, was fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department. He was indicted on Sept. 23, 2020, on three counts of wanton endangerment (for putting Taylor’s neighbors in danger) but was acquitted on March 3, 2022.
On Sept. 15, 2020, the family secured a $12 million settlement from the city of Louisville and a promise to change policies within the police department.
The new charges are the next steps taken by the government and the family to secure justice.
Jaynes, Goodlett, and Meany are being charged with submitting a false affidavit about searching Taylor’s home before the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department’s raid. Federal authorities say the trio collaborated to revise a “false cover story in an attempt to escape responsibility for their roles in preparing the warrant affidavit that contained false information.”
According to the US Department of Justice, Hankison is being accused of “willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force … when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door.”
Hankison is also charged with depriving Taylor and a guest in her home “of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a bedroom window that was covered with blinds and a blackout curtain,” and depriving Taylor’s three neighbors of their constitutional rights when he shot bullets that went her wall and went into their adjacent apartment.
According to the DOJ statement, Jaynes and Meany contributed to Taylor’s constitutional rights being deprived when they drafted and approved a false affidavit to obtain a search warrant, despite knowingly submitting an “affidavit containing false and misleading statements, omitted material facts, relied on stale information, and was not supported by probable cause.”
Both men “knew that the execution of the search warrant would be carried out by armed LMPD officers and could create a dangerous situation both for those officers and for anyone who happened to be in Taylor’s home.”
Goodlett is believed to have conspired with the two officers to “falsify the search warrant for Taylor’s home and to cover up their actions afterward.”
The indictment suggests that Jaynes and another officer worked to draft a fake investigative letter and made false statements to investigators as a way to stop or inhibit a criminal probe into Taylor’s death. It also said Meany made false statements about the shooting.
Garland even revealed Goodlett, and Jaynes met up in a garage weeks after the fatal shooting to come up with a plan to relay false information to investigators.
“We allege that Ms. Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, and Kelly Goodlett sought a warrant to search Ms. Taylor’s home knowing the officers lacked probable cause for the search,” the attorney general said.
While presenting their part in the shooting in a written affidavit, the officers said the target of the drug trafficking investigation received packages at the address of the fatal shooting, despite Jaynes and Goodlett being aware that was a lie.
Jaynes was taken into custody Thursday morning by the FBI and booked in the Oldham County Detention Center, his lawyer Thomas Clay reported, but was released with Hankison and Meany after going before Magistrate Judge Regina Edwards. She said they could go free under the conditions they have no contact with each other or the victims.
They also told them guns should be removed from their homes, setting an unsecured bond of $50,000 per defendant to be paid in full if the terms of their release are violated.
Hankison appears on Sep. 14 for another proceeding and has a trial date of Oct. 13.
LMPD chief, Erika Shields, started the termination proceedings against Meany and Goodlett after the indictment was announced.
The federal charges come over 874 days after Taylor’s death. Her mother, Tamika Palmer, said she has been waiting for action to be taken to bring her justice.
“Every day’s been March 13 for me,” the bereaved mom said, sharing where she has been since the fatal shooting.
Palmer also said, “What we’ve been saying was the truth, that they shouldn’t have been there, and that Breonna didn’t deserve that. Today’s overdue, but it still hurts.”
The indictment is the first federal charges connected to any of the police officers who were responsible for the raid. The state’s attorney said these charges are on top of various civil rights offenses, unconstitutional use of force, and obstruction and federal authorities charged the four with unlawful conspiracies.
In response to the indictment, Garland stated, “We share but we cannot fully imagine the grief felt by Breonna Taylor’s loved ones and all of those affected by the events of March 13, 2020.”
“Breonna Taylor should be alive today.”