Justice Department Charges Police Officers Involved in Breonna Taylor Shooting

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The FBI arrested former Louisville police officer Joshua Jaynes on Thursday in relation to the 2020 shooting that killed Breonna Taylor. Three other officers who were involved in the incident are also facing charges for various crimes.

Fox News reported:

Current LMPD Sgt. Kyle Meany, Detective Kelly Goodlett and former Detective Brett Hankison were also charged with civil rights violations, conspiracy and falsifying records and statements to federal investigators, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday.

Garland stated that the charges “allege that members of the place-based investigations unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant” of Taylor’s home. He further stated that “This act violated federal civil rights laws” and “resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”

THE SECOND WAVE

The attorney general continued:

“Specifically, we allege that Ms. Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany and Kelly Goodlett sought a warrant to search Ms. Taylor’s home knowing that the officers lacked probable cause for the search.”

The Louisville Police Department (LPD) fired Jaynes in January last year after supervisors “said he lied on paperwork that lead to the March 2020 raid on Taylor’s apartment,” according to Fox News.

Garland further explained that the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the officers involved in the investigation were “responsible for falsifying the affidavit that led to the search took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct after Ms. Taylor was killed.” He also said the agency is alleging that the Jaynes and Goodlett “conspired to knowingly falsify an investigative document that was created after Ms. Taylor’s death.”

As an example, the attorney general said the officers allegedly “met in a garage where they agreed to tell investigators a false story.”

Garland gave some more details of the allegations, explaining that Jaynes had sworn before a judge that he had verified through a U.S. Postal Inspector that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a suspected drug dealer, was having packages delivered to her home. However, it was later revealed that Jaynes had not spoken with the postal inspector but had instead gotten the information from Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who had received the information from Shively Police. According to officers working with Shively Police, the postal inspectors said there were no packages going to Taylor’s apartment. After the shooting, officers found no drugs in Taylor’s apartment.

Officer Hankison is being charged with two civil rights offenses alleging that he “willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force while acting in his official capacity as an officer.” This charge is related to the officer firing ten more shots through a window that were covered by blinds and curtains after Taylor was shot.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, said on Thursday that it was “a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor.”

In a joint statement, Crump, and other attorneys representing the family said:

Today was a huge step toward justice. We are grateful for the diligence and dedication of the FBI and the DOJ as they investigated what led to Breonna’s murder and what transpired afterwards. The justice that Breonna received today would not have been possible without the efforts of Attorney General Merrick Garland or Assistant AG for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke.

“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,” the statement read.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron came under fire when he announced that Hankison would be the only officer charged in relation to the high-profile shooting. But it appears the DOJ believes it has evidence that the officers violated Taylor’s civil rights.

This news will likely place the case back into the national spotlight. It might also prompt more conversations about the type of no-knock raids that resulted in Breonna Taylor’s death. The DOJ is also conducting a comprehensive review of LMPD’s policies and assessing its internal operations when it comes to accountability and misconduct investigations.

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