LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The United States Justice Department has charged four current and former Louisville metro police officers who filed a warrant in the raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment in 2020.
Former and current LMPD officers Joshua Jaynes, Brett Hankison, Kelly Goodlett; and Kyle Meany, have been federally charged for their alleged involvement, according to a news release from the DOJ on Thursday in a news conference. The charges include unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction.
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that the LMPD’s Place-Based Investigations Unit allegedly falsified the affidavit that was used to obtain a search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s home.
“Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Garland said.
According to The Associated Press, Garland said that officers who were at Taylor’s home after midnight “were not involved in the drafting of the warrant, and were unaware of the false and misleading statements.”
Hankison was the only officer on the scene that night who was charged, according to the AP. He is facing two civil rights charges for allegedly using excessive force “when he retreated from Taylor’s door, turned a corner and fired 10 shots in the side of her two-bedroom apartment.” Multiple bullets hit other neighbors’ apartments with one bullet hitting a man. Hankison was acquitted by a jury of state charges of wanton endangerment in March earlier this year.
“On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home as usual, but tragically she did not,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “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.”
Jaynes was the lead investigator who had applied for the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment. Jaynes was fired in January 2021 by the former LVPD interim chief Yvette Gentry for violating department standards while preparing the warrant execution and for falsifying information on it as well, according to the AP. Jaynes and Goodlett allegedly worked together to conspire to falsify an “investigative document” that was written after Taylor’s death, Garland said per the AP.
The AP also said that Meany testified at Hankison’s trial earlier in 2022 and investigators found that he allegedly lied to the FBI during its investigation.
“After two long years of relentless investigations, today’s indictments are a critical step forward in the process toward achieving justice for Breonna Taylor,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said on Twitter Thursday. “My thoughts are with Ms. Tamika Palmer, Breonna’s mother, and all those who loved and cared for Breonna. While we cannot reverse her tragic death, we can and must continue to pursue justice for her. I deeply appreciate the hard work of the federal government to tirelessly pursue this case. And, while I know many feel that this process has taken too long, as I have said from the beginning there can be no shortcuts to due process, no shortcuts to justice. Today is an important day in that process.”
“The charges announced today are separate from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s pattern or practice investigation into Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department, which Attorney General Garland announced on April 26, 2021. The charges announced today are criminal against individual officers, while the ongoing pattern or practice investigation is a civil investigation that is examining allegations of systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by LMPD and Louisville Metro. The civil pattern or practice investigation is being handled independently from the criminal case by a different team of career staff. The charges announced today are also separate from the charges previously filed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky against Hankison related to the shooting at Taylor’s home. The federal charges allege violations of the U.S. Constitution, rather than of state law. The federal charges also allege excessive use of force with respect to Taylor and a person staying in her apartment; violations not included in the Commonwealth’s case,” according to the news release.
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