Four current and former Louisville police officers involved in the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s home – including detectives who worked on the search warrant and the ex-officer accused of indiscriminately shooting her home – have been charged with civil rights violations and other charges, attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday.
The charges mark the first federal charges brought against any of the officers involved in the botched raid. In addition to the civil rights violations, federal authorities charged the four men with unlawful conspiracy, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction, Garland said.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said she waited 874 days for federal charges to be filed and beat “everything that was sent to break her.” Her daughter’s death took her to “a place we can’t even imagine”, she said.
“Every day was March 13 for me,” Palmer said, referring to the day Taylor was killed in 2020.
Former Detective Joshua Jaynes, 40, Detective Kelly Goodlett and Staff Sgt. Kyle Meany, 35, was accused of submitting a false affidavit to search Taylor’s home before the raid by the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, then working together to create a “false cover story for the purpose of ‘escaping responsibility for their role in preparing the affidavit of warrant’. containing false information,” according to court documents.
Ex-Detective Brett Hankison is accused of “deliberately using unconstitutional excessive force…when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and a covered glass door”. He is accused of depriving Taylor and a guest at her home “of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a bedroom window that was covered with blinds and a blackout curtain,” the US Department of Health said. Justice.
The 46-year-old is also accused of depriving three of Taylor’s neighbors of their constitutional rights because, according to the indictment, the bullets he fired passed through a wall in Taylor’s home and in an adjacent apartment.
Everything you need to know about the Breonna Taylor case
Jaynes and Meany are charged with willfully depriving Taylor of his constitutional rights by drafting and approving a false affidavit to obtain a search warrant, knowing that “the affidavit contained false and misleading statements, omitted material facts, relied on outdated information and was not supported by probable cause,” the DOJ statement said. Both men “knew that the execution of the search warrant would be carried out by armed LMPD officers and could create a situation dangerous both for these officers and for anyone else at Taylor’s home,” he said.
Goodlett conspired with Jaynes and Meany to “false the search warrant for Taylor’s home and subsequently cover up their actions,” the statement said.
Jaynes and another detective attempted to cover up their actions by writing a fake investigation letter and making false statements to investigators, the statement said. Jaynes falsified a report in hopes of preventing a criminal investigation into Taylor’s death; Meany also made false claims, according to the statement.
Goodlett and Jaynes met in a garage weeks after the failed raid and conspired to pass false information to investigators, the attorney general claimed.
“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 that the officers had no probable cause for the search,” Garland said.
The affidavit falsely claimed that officers had verified that the target of their drug trafficking investigation had received packages addressed to Taylor, but Jaynes and Goodlett knew that was not true, Garland said.
Jaynes, appearing virtually from a detention center wearing shorts and a polo shirt, pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are not asking that he be detained pending trial, but they are asking that he be barred from contacting any witnesses or defendants in the case.
Hankison, who fired 10 shots at Taylor’s home and was acquitted of wanton state endangerment charges earlier this year, has been charged with two federal counts of disenfranchisement under cover of the law. Hankison’s attorney declined to comment. Only Hankison has been charged at the state level.
The officers who executed the search warrant were not involved in writing the warrant and were unaware that it contained false information, the attorney general said.
“We share but cannot fully imagine the grief felt by Breonna Taylor’s loved ones and all those affected by the events of March 13, 2020,” Garland said. “Breonna Taylor should be alive today.
A conviction for willfully violating a person’s rights carries a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison when the violation results in death, according to the DOJ. A conviction for obstruction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and the conspiracy and false statement charges each carry maximum sentences of five years, according to the department.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Taylor’s family, applauded the charges, as well as the “tough fight” waged by Taylor’s family, attorneys, attorneys and community members. In 2020, Crump and his team secured a settlement that paid $12 million to Taylor’s family and led to sweeping police reforms, including the use of social workers to provide support at certain races. and the requirement that commanding officers review and approve search warrants before seeking judicial approval. .
“Today was a big step towards justice. We are grateful for the diligence and dedication of the FBI and DOJ as they investigate what led to Breonna’s murder and what happened. The justice Breonna received today would not have been possible without the efforts of Attorney General Merrick Garland or Civil Rights Assistant AG Kristen Clarke,” Crump said in a statement.” We hope this announcement of a guilty plea sends a message to all the other officers involved that it’s time to stop covering up and accept responsibility for their role in the death of a beautiful young black woman. innocent.”
Clarke said in a statement, “Since the founding of our nation, the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights has guaranteed that all people have the right to be safe in their homes, free from forged warrants. , unreasonable searches and the use of unjustifiable. and excessive force by the police. These indictments reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the criminal justice system and protecting the constitutional rights of every American.
In January 2021, the LMPD fired Jaynes and his colleague Myles Cosgrove. Cosgrove was fired for using lethal force by unleashing 16 bullets into Taylor’s home and failing to activate his body camera, according to a copy of his termination letter.
Jaynes was fired for ‘failing to complete a search warrant operations plan form’ and lying about verifying that Taylor’s former boyfriend Jamarcus Glover received packages at Taylor’s home , indicates the letter of dismissal.
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After his dismissal, Jaynes’ attorney Thomas Clay said the move was not unexpected and vowed to fight for his client to be reinstated.
“We are of the opinion that he did nothing wrong in any of the activities related to this research,” Clay told CNN in January 2021.
Cosgrove fired the shot that killed Taylor, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said, adding that the shooting was justified because Taylor’s boyfriend shot the officers first. Kenneth Walker II, Taylor’s boyfriend, repeatedly said he thought the officers were intruders and fired a shot when they broke down the door.
Crump’s co-lawyer Lonita Baker took aim at Cameron after Garland’s announcement on Thursday, saying the attorney general “has no right to hold political office” representing Kentucky.
“The federal government had the courage to do what Daniel Cameron didn’t,” she said.
A review board upheld Cosgrove’s dismissal last year, and Jaynes lost a similar appeal to the board in June, according to CNN affiliate WDRB.
The Louisville Police Union said at the time that the layoffs were “unjustified.”
“There is certainly no evidence in this matter that LMPD policies and procedures have been violated to the point of warranting their termination,” the Fraternal Order of Police in River City said in a statement. “Acting Chief (Yvette) Gentry not only made the wrong decision, but also sent a disturbing message to all sworn officers in the Louisville Metro Police Department.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was fatally shot in her apartment in a flawed break-in in the early hours of March 13, 2020. Her death, along with those of other black people at the hands of security forces, the order – including George Floyd in Minnesota and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia – sparked a summer of protests calling for police reform.
No officers involved in the raid have been charged in Taylor’s murder.
State prosecutors only charged Hankison in connection with the shooting. The LMPD fired Hankison in June 2020, and in September 2020 a grand jury indicted Hankison on three counts of wanton felony endangerment for indiscriminately firing 10 shots into Taylor’s home.
A jury acquitted Hankison of all charges in March.