Four current and former Louisville police officers are facing federal civil rights charges more than two years after the fatal shooting of Breona Taylor, who was killed in her home during a botched police raid in March 2020.
The US Department of Justice alleges that officers used excessive force, lied to investigators and engaged in a cover-up in the wake of her murder.
Two separate charges include former Louisville Metro Police officers Joshua Janes, Brett Hankison and Kelly Hanna Goodlett, as well as current Sgt.Kyle Meany. All were charged by federal law enforcement officials on Aug. 4, marking the first federal charges in connection with her death.
Officers Janes and Goodlett falsified search warrant information in violation of Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights, leading to her murder, and conducted the search knowing they lacked probable cause, according to federal prosecutors.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the now-former officers also conspired to falsify documents after Taylor was killed and agreed to lie to investigators after her death.
Hankison — who until Thursday was the only officer charged in Taylor’s killing — was acquitted of three counts of felony uttering an unlawful threat earlier this year after she fired 10 bullets into her window and a glass door into a neighboring apartment.
On Thursday, he was charged with willful use of unconstitutional force.
Officers executed a search warrant at Taylor’s home on March 13, 2020, based on a falsified affidavit used to obtain the warrant, and then “conspired to mislead state, local and federal authorities” in a subsequent investigation, according to Mr. Garland.
The indictments allege that officers Jaynes and Goodlett met falsified an investigative document after Taylor’s death and met in a garage to conspire to mislead authorities during the investigation. Meany is also accused of lying to investigators.
“Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Mr Garland said during a press conference on Thursday. “We share, but cannot fully imagine, the grief that Breonna Taylor’s loved ones are feeling.”
The 26-year-old black woman, a doctor, was at home with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when plainclothes officers used a battering ram to open the door shortly after midnight. Mr. Walker fired a single shot from his legal firearm, believing an intruder had broken into the apartment.
Two officers then fired over 20 rounds into the apartment. One round fatally struck Taylor.
Her death sparked international calls for justice and an end to police brutality, part of a wave of protests in the wake of the killings of other Black people killed by police.
Janes was fired from the Louisville Police Department after Taylor’s murder, and a then-interim chief accused Janes of “lying” when he wrote a warrant application verifying through the US Postal Service that Taylor was receiving activist-related packages drugs. concerning an ex-boyfriend.
He is suing to get his job back.
Inside the indictments
The first federal indictment contains four counts against Jaynes and Meany of federal civil rights violations and obstruction.
A first count accuses the men of preparing a false affidavit for the warrant that “contained false and misleading statements, omitted material facts, was based on stale information, and was not supported by probable cause,” according to the Justice Department. The indictment also alleges that both men knew that executing the warrant would create a “dangerous” situation.
According to the charges, the officers who executed the warrant did not know the affidavit was false.
A second count charges Jaynes with conspiracy as part of a “cover-up.” A third count accuses Jaynes of falsifying a subsequent report “with intent to obstruct a criminal investigation” into Taylor’s death.
In a separate information sheet, Goodlett is charged with one count of conspiracy for allegedly working with Jaynes to falsify the warrant affidavit for Taylor’s home, as well as making a false report to “cover up” the false affidavit.
A fourth count charges Meany with making a false statement to federal investigators.
The second indictment – v. Hankison – includes two civil rights counts alleging that the now-former officer “intentionally used unconstitutional excessive force, while acting in his official capacity as an officer, when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door.”
A first count against Hankison alleges that he deprived Taylor and Mr. Walker of their constitutional rights by firing blindly into the apartment “through a bedroom window that was covered with blinds and a blackout curtain.”
The second count accuses him of depriving Taylor’s neighbors of their constitutional rights by “shooting through a sliding glass door that was covered by blinds and a curtain.”
Both charges allege that Hankison’s conduct “involved attempted murder.”