Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Four current and former Louisville, Kentucky, police officers were charged Thursday with federal crimes connected to the 2020 death of Breonna Taylor.
The 26-year-old emergency medical technician was shot and killed by police who had carried out a nighttime “no-knock” warrant to storm her home while she was sleeping with her boyfriend. Believing they were intruders, her boyfriend fired one shot at the officers using a handgun he legally owned. The officers responded by firing 22 bullets, killing Taylor with a shot to the chest.
The fatal shooting of Taylor, a Black woman, galvanized racial justice protests in the spring and summer of 2020, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The charges against defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, Brett Hankison and Kelly Goodlett, include civil rights violations, conspiracy, use of excessive force offenses and obstruction.
Charging documents state that three of the officers, Jaynes, Meany and Goodlett, lied in order to obtain a warrant they used to search Taylor’s apartment in an act that violated federal civil rights laws and led to Taylor’s death, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a news conference.
“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 said.
Jaynes, a former Louisville Metro Police Department detective, Meany, a current LMPD sergeant, and Goodlett a current LMPD detective, also “took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct” and “conspired to mislead federal, state and local authorities who were investigating the incident,” Garland said.
The officers who carried out the search warrant, he added, “were not involved in the drafting of the warrant and were unaware of the false and misleading statements it contained.”
In a separate indictment, former Louisville police officer Hankison faces civil rights charges in which he’s accused of using excessive force for firing 10 additional shots into Taylor’s apartment. Hankison, one of three LMPD officers who entered Taylor’s home, was fired in June 2020 for his actions. Earlier this year, a jury found Hankison not guilty on state charges of wanton endangerment.
It was not immediately clear if Jaynes, Meany, Hankison, or Goodlett had an attorney to comment on their behalf.
Joshua Jaynes, former Louisville Police detective
Jaynes drafted and swore out a warrant affidavit for Taylor’s home, prosecutors allege in one indictment, “knowing at the time that the affidavit contained false and misleading statements, omitted material information, relied on stale information, and was not supported by probable cause.”
In doing so, he willfully violated Taylor’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, according to the indictment.
In a count of conspiracy against Jaynes, the defendant committed several acts with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation of the fatal raid of Taylor’s home in March 2020. The indictment cites one instance in May in which Jaynes arranged to meet with Goodlett, a fellow officer charged in a separate filing Thursday, in a garage where they “agreed to tell investigators a false story.”
A third count alleges that Jaynes knowingly falsified an investigative letter — that “he knew would be used in a criminal investigation into the preparation of the warrant” — by inserting false information suggesting Taylor’s connection to alleged drug trafficking.
Kyle Meany, Louisville Police sergeant
Meany, who, along with Jaynes, deprived Taylor of her constitutional right, according to the first count listed in the indictment, knew the affidavit drawn up by Jaynes containing false and misleading information when he approved it.
In addition, Meany lied to federal investigators, according to the fourth count on the indictment. The indictment alleges that the Louisville police sergeant told an FBI agent that his officers had carried out the “no-knock” warrant at the request of his department’s SWAT unit, when in fact he knew that no such request was made.
Brett Hankison, former Louisville Police officer
In a separate indictment, Hankison is accused of depriving Taylor, her boyfriend and her neighbors of their rights when he fired his weapon “after there was no longer a lawful objective justifying the use of deadly force.”
After the two fellow officers returned fire, Hankison proceeded away from the doorway to the side of the apartment to shoot 10 bullets through a window and glass door, covered by blinds and a curtain, “with an attempt to kill,” the indictment said.
Kelly Goodlett, Louisville Police detective
Goodlett faces one count of conspiracy, according to a third charging document, for working with Jaynes, to submit a false and misleading warrant application.
Before the warrant was executed, prosecutors allege that Jaynes told Goodlett that the target of their drug-selling probe, who has previously been identified as Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, was receiving packages at Taylor’s address.
Goodlett knew this claim was false, prosecutors said, but did not object to the information or change it in the affidavit. In fact, prosecutors allege, she added a misleading paragraph that said detectives had “verified” recent information that Taylor’s home was the current address of the person they believed to be selling drugs — linking Taylor her former boyfriend’s criminal activity.
After media publications reported that a postal inspector disputed the claim that Taylor’s address was also that of the suspect police believed was selling drugs, Goodlett conspired with Jaynes to coordinate their cover-up story, according to prosecutors.