Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday announced that the Justice Department has charged four former and current Louisville police officers in connection to the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by officers carrying out a search warrant in her home.
“The federal charges announced today allege that members of a Police Investigations Unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor’s home and that this act violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Garland said in a news conference.
The charges are the first federal counts against any of the officers involved in the deadly raid in March 2020.
The first of three indictments, which contains four counts, charges former detective Joshua Jaynes and sergeant Kyle Meany with federal civil rights and obstruction offenses for allegedly falsifying a search warrant affidavit that led to Taylor’s death, depriving Taylor of her constitutional rights.
Prosecutors said Jaynes and Meany allegedly knew that the affidavit contained false and misleading statements and was not supported by probable cause. Jaynes and Meany allegedly also had knowledge that the search warrant would be carried out by armed officers, potentially creating a “dangerous situation” for the officers and anyone in Taylor’s residence, prosecutors said.
Additionally, the indictment charges Jaynes with conspiracy for allegedly agreeing with another detective to cover up the false warrant affidavit after Taylor’s death by drafting a false investigative letter and issuing false statements to criminal investigators. Jaynes is also charged with falsifying a report with the intent to impede a criminal probe into Taylor’s death as well as allegedly making a false statement to federal investigators.
“Among other things, the affidavit falsely claimed that officers had verified that the target of the alleged drug trafficking operation had received packages at Ms. Taylor’s address,” Garland said during a press conference. “In fact, defendants Jaynes and Goodlett knew that was not true.”
The second indictment alleged that former detective Brett Hankison committed two civil right offenses when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door, a decision the DOJ alleges depriving Taylor and anyone at her residence their constitutional rights. Additionally, Hankison allegedly deprived three of Taylor’s neighbors of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a sliding glass door that was covered. Several of Hankison’s bullets allegedly penetrated through the wall of Taylor’s home and into her neighbors’ apartment units. Hankison is accused of using a dangerous weapon, with his actions involving an intent to kill.
Additionally, former detective Kelly Goodlette is charged with allegedly conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the search warrant for Taylor’s home and covering up their actions.