Louisville, KY – U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared in Louisville on Wednesday morning to announce the findings of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) pattern and practice investigation into the Louisville police.
The federal investigation was launched after 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was killed during the service of a no-knock warrant at her apartment on March 13, 2020, The Washington Post reported.
DOJ’s probe found that members of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) had carried out unlawful and unconstitutional policing that included searches based on invalid warrants and executing search warrants without knocking and announcing their presence.
The investigation also found that officers had been making unlawful stops and violating the rights of people engaging in protected free speech criticizing the police department, according to The Washington Post.
The report on the investigation said that for years, LMPD “practiced an aggressive style of policing that it deploys selectively, especially against black people, but also against vulnerable people throughout the city. … Failures of leadership and accountability have allowed unlawful conduct to continue unchecked. Even when city and police leaders announced solutions, they failed to follow through.”
The probe also found that police and city government employees discriminated against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to crisis situations, The Washington Post reported.
Attorney General Merrick Garland called the misconduct at LMPD “heartbreaking” on March 8 and said it “erodes the community trust that is needed for effective community policing.”
The release of the report, which took two years to complete, started the clock for DOJ and city leaders to begin negotiations on what will ultimately be a court-approved consent decree outlining hundreds of very specific police department changes that will be overseen by federal monitors, The Washington Post reported.
The release of the report comes just a week before the third anniversary of Taylor’s death.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced federal civil rights, conspiracy, use of force, and obstruction charges in August of 2022 against four former and current Louisville police officers who were involved in the fatal raid her apartment.
Taylor was fatally shot officers served a “no-knock” warrant on her apartment in connection with a drug investigation of her former boyfriend and her current boyfriend opened fire on the officers after they entered the residence.
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 of 2022.
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.
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.
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.