Aug 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DOJ charges 4 Louisville officers over Breonna Taylor shooting

A person holding a portrait of Breonna Taylor at a demonstration In New York City in April 2021.
A person holding a portrait of Breonna Taylor at a demonstration In New York City in April 2021. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Department of Justice charged four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers involved with drafting the "no-knock" search warrant that led to the March 2020 shooting of Breonna Taylor, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The charges, coming over two years after Taylor's death, were in response to alleged crimes that included civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction offenses, Garland said.

  • Taylor was shot dead by police on March 13, 2020, when LMPD officers conducting a narcotics investigation entered the 26-year-old's home in plain-clothes to serve a no-knock warrant.
  • Police exchanged fire with Taylor's boyfriend, who said he fired believing the home was being broken into.

What they're saying: Garland said the department believes the civil rights offenses, stemming from the falsification of a search warrant, "resulted in Ms. Taylor's death."

  • The attorney general said the federal charges focused on members of a specific investigation unit within the LMPD that allegedly falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Taylor's home, violating civil rights laws.
  • "Breonna Taylor should be alive today," he said.

The charges were handed out to former LMPD officers Joshua Jaynes, Brett Hankison and Kelly Hanna Goodlett, and current sergeant Kyle Meany.

  • They allege that Jaynes and Meany knowingly falsified the affidavit to obtain the search warrant, depriving Taylor of her Fourth Amendment rights.
  • Hankison was charged with using unconstitutionally excessive force during the execution of the warrant by blindly shooting into Taylor's home through a window and a sliding glass door, which were both covered.
  • The indictments also allege that Jaynes and Goodlett falsified an investigative document that was created after Taylor's death and conspired to mislead authorities who were investigating the incident. Meany is alleged to have also lied to investigators.

The big picture: A grand jury in September 2020 indicted former detective Hankison, who was fired, on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots blindly into neighboring apartments while entering Taylor's home, though he was acquitted in March 2022.

  • Jaynes, a former detective for the department, was fired in January 2021 for violating procedures while preparing the no-knock search warrant for Taylor's apartment, during which she was fatally shot by police.
  • Myles Cosgrove, the LMPD detective that the FBI concluded fired the shot that killed Taylor, was fired from the department as well.
  • Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department said the department is conducting a separate investigation into whether the LMPD uses excessive force in search warrants or engages in racially discriminatory policing.
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