The four officers charged worked for the Louisville Metro Police Department’s local investigative team.
Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was fatally shot when the local investigation unit served a no knock warrant at her home on March 13, 2020. At the time, Taylor was with her baby friend, who shot and injured a police officer he believed to be an intruder trying to break in. After firing, police fired 22 shots into Taylor’s home, five of which struck and killed her.
Police were investigating two drug dealers in the area and the signed affidavit to obtain the warrant alleged that one of the targets received a package addressed to Taylor.
“Today, after a full and thorough investigation, the facts and the law have brought us here to these indictments,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said Thursday. “No stone was left unturned. These indictments reflect the department’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the criminal justice system and protecting the constitutional rights of every American, regardless of these criminal charges.
Garland said one of the charges alleged that Meany, Jaynes and Goodlett all knew the affidavit used to obtain the warrant contained false information. Specifically, he alleged that Jaynes and Goodlett knew the warrant target had not received a package addressed to Taylor.
“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.
Clarke later said Jaynes and Meany worked together to draft and approve the bogus affidavit used to substantiate the warrant. In doing so, the Justice Department alleges they deliberately deprived 26-year-old Taylor of her rights against unlawful search and seizure.
“The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution ensures that persons are not subject to search unless there is probable cause warranting a search warrant,” Clarke said. “Falsified warrants create unnecessary risk to the public and to police who rely on facts reported by other officers in the performance of their public duties.”
Hankison, whom the police department fired in June 2020, is accused of using excessive force that violated Taylor’s civil rights, the rights of her guest and the rights of her neighbors.
“With no legitimate purpose to justify the use of lethal force, defendant Hankison walked away from Ms. Taylor’s door at the side of the building and fired 10 shots into Breonna Taylor’s apartment through a window of bedroom and a sliding glass door that were both covered with blinds and curtains,” Clarke said.
“Community safety dictates that police use their weapons only when necessary to defend their own lives or the lives of others, and even then they must do so with great care and caution,” Clarke said. .
Hankison has previously been charged with felony endangerment in the state of Kentucky but was acquitted in March.
Taylor’s murder received renewed attention in May 2020 following the killing of George Floyd by an officer in Minneapolis and racial reckonings across the country.
His death also raised issues with the use of no-knock warrants, which the mayor of Louisville suspended indefinitely in May 2020.
“Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Garland said Thursday. “The Department of Justice is committed to defending and protecting the civil rights of every person in this country. This was the founding purpose of this department, and it remains our urgent mission.
Separately, Clarke said a Justice Department team is conducting a civilian investigation into whether the Louisville Metro Police Department is “currently engaging in a pattern of law enforcement misconduct.” Clarke said the investigation includes reviewing the department’s excessive use of force, as well as any improper search or seizure and racial profiling.