Justice Department Charges 4 Louisville Police Officers Linked to Breonna Taylor Murder

Washington – The Justice Department on Thursday filed federal charges against four current and former Louisville police officers related to the 2020 death of Breonna Taylorwho was shot dead by police during a raid on her apartment as she slept.

The charges against defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, Kelly Goodlett and Brett Hankison include various civil rights violations, conspiracy, use of force and obstruction. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the civil rights charges against three of the officers stemmed from the alleged tampering with the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant authorizing the morning raid on Taylor’s apartment.

“The federal charges announced today allege that members of the On-Scene Investigations Unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home, that this act violated federal human rights laws civilians and that these violations resulted in the death of Ms. Taylor,” Garland told the Justice Department.

Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot on March 13, 2020, when Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers broke into her apartment where she was sleeping with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Walker thought the officers were intruders and fired his handgun at them as they entered, hitting one in the leg. Officers fired 22 shots into the apartment in response, one of which hit Taylor in the chest, killing her.

The LMPD fired Hankinson and Jaynes in the months after Taylor’s death, and the department said Thursday the police chief had begun “termination proceedings” for Meany and Goodlett, who remain on the force.

In the charging documents, prosecutors said Goodlett and Jaynes, both detectives, included false and misleading information in a search warrant application, specifically that a postal inspector had informed Goodlett that the target of their drug trafficking investigation was receiving packages addressed to Taylor. This was untrue, prosecutors say, but Meany, a sergeant and their supervisor, approved the warrant application anyway.

Breonna Taylor - Federal Charge
This undated photo shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.

Photo provided by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar via AP

“We allege that the defendants knew their actions in falsifying the affidavit could create a dangerous situation, and we allege that these unlawful acts resulted in the death of Ms. Taylor,” Garland said, noting that none of the officers who executed warrant “was not involved in drafting the warrant and were unaware of the false and misleading statements contained therein.”

The attorney general said Jaynes, Goodlett and Meany ‘also took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct after Ms Taylor’s death’ and ‘conspired to mislead federal, state and local authorities investigating the incident “.

Jaynes and Goodlett allegedly met in Jaynes’ garage on the night of May 17, 2020, after seeing media reports that a postal inspector had contradicted information in the search warrant request. The couple devised a scheme to tell investigators a false story on the affidavit, according to the charging documents. They both told similar stories about a postal inspector casually mentioning that the target was receiving packages at Taylor’s address, a claim they knew to be false, prosecutors said.

Meany is also accused of lying to investigators about the officers unexpectedly entering Taylor’s home. According to the charging documents, Meany told the FBI that his officers executed the warrant at the request of the SWAT unit, when in fact he knew the unit had made no such request.

In a separate indictment, Hankison was charged with two counts of disenfranchisement for firing 10 shots through a window and glass door in Taylor’s apartment after she was killed. Hankison was acquitted charged by the state with wanton endangerment in a trial earlier this year.

The charges come more than a year after the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the habits and practices of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, a separate and ongoing investigation, a statement from the department.

“The charges announced today are criminal against individual officers, while the ongoing pattern or practice investigation is a civil investigation that examines allegations of systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by the LMPD and the Louisville Metro,” the department said. “The civil model or practice investigation is handled independently of the criminal case by a different team of career personnel.”

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