The Department of Justice on Thursday charged four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department officers with federal crimes related to the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor in March 2020.
Former Officers Joshua Jaynes, Brett Hankison, and Kelly Goodlett were arrested Thursday by the FBI. Sgt. Kyle Meany, who still works for the department, also was arrested.
The charges allege Jaynes, Hankison and Goodlett used false and misleading information to obtain the search warrant that sent officers to Taylor’s home, where they used a battering ram to break through the door and “blindly” fire bullets inside that killed the 26-year-old hospital technician.
Jaynes wrote in the 2020 warrant application that he’d “verified with a U.S. Postal Inspector” that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, a suspected drug dealer, had been using her address to receive packages.
That wasn’t true, according to the Justice Department.
“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,“ Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference Thursday.
The Justice Department also slapped Jaynes and Goodlett with conspiracy charges, alleging they met in a garage in May 2020, “where they agreed to tell investigators a false story.” Goodlett was charged in a criminal information, not a grand jury indictment, a step that often indicates a plea agreement.
In a second indictment, prosecutors say Hankison used unconstitutionally excessive force during the raid when he moved from Taylor’s doorway to the side of the building, where he fired 10 shots into her apartment through a bedroom window and a sliding glass door, both of which were covered with blinds and curtains.
“Today’s indictment alleges that Hankison’s use of excessive force violated the rights of Breonna Taylor and her guest, and also of her neighbors, whose lives were endangered by bullets that penetrated into their apartment,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.
Louisville police fired Hankison for his actions. He was also charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, but a Kentucky jury acquitted him.
Ben Crump, a lawyer representing Taylor’s family, welcomed the federal charges.
“We hope this announcement of a guilty plea sends a message to all other involved officers that it is time to stop covering up and time to accept responsibility for their roles in causing the death of an innocent, beautiful young Black woman,” Crump said in a statement.
“There are still so many families who are fighting and praying for justice and accountability in situations where their loved ones were wrongfully killed by the police,” he continued. “We need to stand with them, fight with them, pray with them, and do whatever is possible for them.”