Federal prosecutors have charged four Louisville police officers in connection with the death of Breonna Taylor over two years after the fatal shooting during a no-knock raid on her home when police were seeking her ex-boyfriend on suspected drug charges, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced today in Washington D.C. in a news conference.
The charges include using excessive force, falsifying information on the search warrant used to justify the unannounced home invasion, and staging a cover-up of their actions.
Officers Kelly Goodlett and Joshua Jaynes were alleged to have falsified information on a search warrant, saying that a U.S. postal inspector had verified that Taylor’s former boyfriend had been receiving mail at her address when an investigation discovered that no such verification had taken place and that the claim was only a second-hand rumor passed along by another officer. Jaynes was eventually fired from his job as a Louisville police officer for violating department policies in the preparation of the warrant.
Attorney General Garland accused the officers of violating Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights and existing civil rights laws despite knowing that the illegally obtained warrant could lead to a dangerous situation that eventually “resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.” Garland also revealed that Goodlett and Jaynes are alleged to have met in a garage after Taylor’s death to concoct a false narrative to provide investigators looking into the circumstances surrounding the tragic killing.
“Breonna Taylor should still be alive,” Garland told the attendees at the news conference.
In addition to Officers Goodlett and Jaynes, former officer Brett Hankison is being charged with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, accused of willfully using unconstitutional force for firing 10 shots through Taylor’s patio door during the raid. Hankison was previously tried in a Kentucky state court on charges of wanton endangerment for firing those shots without having a clear target but was acquitted during his March trial.
Also charged in the federal indictment, according to Garland is Louisville police Sgt. Kyle Meany.
Last year, “Garland announced a ‘pattern or practice’ probe of the Louisville police department to determine whether the agency had engaged in abuse of power and unlawful tactics,” according to The Washington Post.
Over two years after her killing, Attorney General Garland reaffirmed the commitment of the Justice Department to bringing accountability for Breonna Taylor’s murder.
“We share, but cannot fully imagine, the grief felt by Breonna Taylor’s loved ones,” the Attorney General said.
The Justice Department’s actions today have sparked a ray of hope that local police departments around the country will be forced to face responsibility for the actions of their officers that violate the civil rights of the citizens whom they are sworn to protect. Let’s hope that this is not the last indictment with multiple other cases that deserve further DOJ investigation.