Four Officers Indicted by DOJ In Connection to Breonna Taylor’s Death

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman and EMT, was killed during a botched drug raid at her Louisville home in March 2020.

Breonna Taylor's make shift memorial in Injustice Square Park in downtown Louisville on September 26, 2020, in Louisville, KY. Credit: Getty Images
Breonna Taylor's make shift memorial in Injustice Square Park in downtown Louisville on September 26, 2020, in Louisville, KY. Credit: Getty Images

Today, the Department of Justice brought charges against four current and former Louisville police officers involved in the fatal raid on Breonna Taylor’s home. The individuals have been charged with civil rights violations and other counts, per an announcement from Attorney General Merrick Garland. The other violations include unlawful conspiracies and unconstitutional use of force. The charges are the first federal counts against any of the officers involved in Taylor’s death.

During today’s press conference, AG Garland said that the officers had “violated federal civil rights laws and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”

On March 13, 2020, multiple Louisville police officers barreled down the door of Taylor’s apartment while executing a search warrant related to a drug investigation. After Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired one shot, believing the officers to be intruders, police fired 30+ rounds of ammunition.. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman and EMT, was ultimately killed in the spray of gunfire.

With the indictment, federal prosecutors are alleging that former detectives Joshua Jaynes, 40, and Kelly Goodlett, and Sgt. Kyle Meany, 35, made false claims in an affidavit used to obtain the original search warrant to Taylor’s home, stating without evidence that they had reason to believe an ex-boyfriend (an alleged drug dealer) had been receiving packages at her apartment. Prosecutors claim the officers, in actuality, possessed no evidence of the supposed packages.

The DOJ’s indictment furthermore alleges that, in the aftermath of the deadly shooting, the group of officers conspired to fabricate a “false cover story in an attempt to escape responsibility for their roles in preparing the warrant affidavit that contained false information,” according to court documents. In his remarks, Garland also alleged that, in the weeks following the botched raid, Jaynes and Goodlett met in a garage and concocted a plan to provide investigators with false information.

“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 the officers lacked probable cause for the search,” Garland said. He added, “We share but we cannot fully imagine the grief felt by Breonna Taylor’s loved ones and all of those affected by the events of March 13, 2020. Breonna Taylor should be alive today.”

Former Louisville Metro Police Department detective Brett Hankison, the only officer who was previously charged in connection to the March 2020 incident, was acquitted by a jury this past March on three counts of felony wanton endangerment. The second indictment charges Hankison, 46, with civil rights offenses for shooting blindly into an apartment window that was sheathed with blackout curtains, resulting in unconstitutional excessive force. Hankison also fired rounds into a sliding glass door that was covered in blinds, with some of his bullets ultimately penetrating an adjoining apartment.

“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 afterward,” Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Sam Aguilar, who represented Taylor’s family, said in a statement. “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. Say her name. Breonna Taylor.”