Louisville, KY – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced federal civil rights, conspiracy, use of force, and obstruction charges on Thursday against four former and current Louisville police officers who were involved in the fatal raid on 26-year-old Breonna Taylor’s apartment more than two years ago.
Taylor was fatally shot on March 13, 2020 when Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) officers served a “no-knock” warrant on her apartment in connection with a drug investigation of her former boyfriend.
Her current boyfriend opened fire on the officers after they entered the apartment and police returned fire.
Taylor was fatally shot.
Only one of the four officers involved in the raid on Taylor’s home was criminally charged for his actions that night.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said a state grand jury refused to indict the other officers involved in the raid that left Taylor dead.
Former Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing wild shots that entered an occupied apartment next door.
Hankison was acquitted by a jury in March.
Taylor’s mother went to DC after Hankison’s acquittal and asked officials at the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to investigate her daughter’s fatal shooting by Louisville police.
Four months later, Taylor’s mother got her wish when DOJ announced federal civil rights charges against Hankison and three other members of LMPD who had gotten the warrants that led to the raid.
“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,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters at a press conference on Aug. 4, ABC News reported.
Prosecutors alleged that LMPD Officer Kyle Meany, former LMPD Officer Joshua Jaynes, and former LMPD Detective Kelly Goodlett violated Taylor’s 4th Amendment rights when they went after a warrant to search her home.
DOJ said the officers sought a warrant knowing they lacked probable cause and knowing that their affidavit supporting the warrant had false or misleading information, ABC News reported.
Prosecutors said the officers knew the allegations that Taylor had been receiving drug packages at her home for her former boyfriend were untrue.
Officer Meany, who was their supervisor, approved the warrant application despite knowing it contained false information, according to DOJ.
“We allege that the defendants knew their actions in falsifying the affidavit could create a dangerous situation, and we allege these unlawful acts resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Garland told reporters, according to CBS News.
Officer Meany, Jaynes, and Goodlett are also facing federal conspiracy charges for allegedly falsifying information for the warrant application, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors claimed that Jaynes and Goodlett met in a garage four days after Taylor was killed and came up with “a false story” that they agreed to tell investigators about the ill-gotten affidavit, CBS News reported.
Officer Meany has also been charged with lying to investigators when he told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that the SWAT team had requested the “no knock” warrant for the raid when no such request had been made.
Former Sgt. Hankison is also facing new charges in connection with Taylor’s death, CBS News reported.
Hankison was charged with two counts of deprivation of rights for firing 10 rounds through a window and glass door into the apartment after Taylor had been killed.
DOJ is already conducting a patterns and practices investigation of LMPD and made sure it was clear that probe is ongoing, CBS News reported.
“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,” DOJ said. “The civil pattern or practice investigation is being handled independently from the criminal case by a different team of career staff.”