Aug 24, 2022 - Podcasts

Ex-police officer admits to conspiracy in Breonna Taylor's killing

A former Kentucky police detective pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Former Louisville Metro police officer Kelly Goodlett admitted in federal court to falsifying the no-knock search warrant that led to Taylor’s death, and to giving a false report afterwards as part of a cover-up attempt.

  • Plus, the outlook for the Russia-Ukraine war at six months.
  • And, student loan debt, by the numbers.

Guests: Axios' Dave Lawler and Shawna Chen.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Alex Sugiura, and Ben O'Brien. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It’s Wednesday, August 24th. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Here’s what you need to know today: a former police officer admits falsifying the search warrant that led to Breonna Taylor’s death. Plus, student loan debt, by the numbers. But first, the outlook for the Russia-Ukraine war at six months -- that’s today’s One Big Thing.

The war on Ukraine, six months on

Today is the 31st anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet union. And it also marks exactly six months since Russia's invasion began.

Tens of thousands of lives have been lost. Millions of people have been displaced. And that's why today instead of a parade central Kiev is decorated with the husks of burned out Russian armored vehicles, but President Volodymr Zelensky yesterday, warned the world against war fatigue and said he would not allow the conflict to freeze in its current state with Russia occupying one fifth of Ukraine. But Russian president Vladimir Putin is equally intent on pushing ahead. Axios's world editor, Dave Lawler joined me last night to share what that means for these countries and for the rest of the world. Hey Dave.


NIALA: Dave, where are we at right now? Because six months in, it seems like we're much farther from an end to this war than we were at the beginning.

DAVE: Yeah, Niala. So I've been thinking about the early days of the war, right. When we thought any day that Kyiv could fall, that Russia was really closing in on the city. And then we'd see a video of Zelensky and think, okay, he's still alive. You know, this was the early phase of the war, but Russia was unsuccessful there. They didn't take Kyiv, they pulled back and we ended up in this kind of grinding war of attrition in the east of the country, which is still going on, but now the focal point is also moving to the south. That's where Russia has had some success in occupying quite a bit of territory. And we think uh, Ukraine might be gearing up for a counter attack there.

NIALA: And so when I said at the beginning that Russia occupies one fifth of Ukraine is that to the east and the south only?

DAVE: Right. So they have, Crimea still, which they've occupied since 2014. They have a couple of Ol, they're states in the south of the country, and then they control most of this Donbas Region in the east you know, where the fighting took place prior to the invasion, there was already a conflict in the east of the country there.

So those are the areas that Russia controls. As you said Zelensky was asked, you know, would you accept that basically? Would you freeze these lines in place in order to get peace? Uh, look, that offer is not on the table from Russia anyways, but Zelensky said, no, we're not going to leave Russia, still controlling what is about one fifth of our country.

DAVE: And so it does seem like this war has not really approached any kind of end.

NIALA: How are we seeing the rest of the world react at this half-year mark? It seems like a lot of the global rallying around Ukraine has lost a bit of that momentum.

DAVE: Yeah. So one thing that the Ukrainians will be happy about is we are expecting another big announcement from the US about weapons shipments to Ukraine.

That's, you know, their main concern at the moment is making sure they have the arms they need to wage this war. But there is some concern about what's going to happen in Europe in the coming months, they're really getting squeezed on natural gas prices because Russia's supply is very much in question. It could be a difficult winter in Europe, and there's some question about whether that will impact the support there for Ukraine, which is so important.

EU support is really important for Ukraine, in waging this war. And then there's the rest of the world where, you know, they're also feeling the effects of this war in terms of higher gas prices, higher prices for wheat and other essential foods. There is maybe more division in the international response than we saw immediately after, uh, the invasion happened.

But there's very much still an intent from the US, from France, from Canada, from the UK, these big Western countries to say, they're going to continue to do what it takes to support Ukraine for the long haul.

NIALA: And where does that leave Vladimir Putin then, has his end game changed?

DAVE: Some people think he just wants to leave this wound open in Ukraine, basically. You know, keep a conflict raging there, keep the country divided. Other people say he still has his eyes on Kyiv and he wants to take the capital, he still has these maximalist objectives from early in the war. Nobody at the moment seems to think he really wants a peace deal, he really wants this war to end that obviously could change. But reading Vladimir Putin's mind is a fool's errand in some way, even though it is still one of the key questions here, what does Vladimir Putin want? And what would he accept?

NIALA: Dave Lawler is Axios's World Editor. Thanks Dave.

DAVE: Thanks.

NIALA: In a moment, the first conviction over the death of Breonna Taylor.

Ex-police officer admits to falsifying search warrant in Breonna Taylor's killing

Welcome back to Axios Today. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

A former Kentucky cop pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Former Louisville Metro Police Officer Kelly Goodlett admitted in federal court to falsifying the no-knock search warrant that led to Taylor’s death, and to giving a false report afterwards as part of a cover-up attempt. Goodlett is the first officer to be convicted in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.

Axios’ Shawna Chen is covering this. Shawna, what details do we have about Goodlett’s actions here?

SHAWNA: Yeah. So Goodlett was one of four officers, facing federal charges of violating civil rights, and she helped falsify the search warrant that essentially led to Taylor's death. So officers went to her home at night, um, with a no knock warrant, uh, and an attempt to, poke around and, and as part of a drug investigation. But they used battering ram to break down her door and forcibly enter her house. Kenneth Walker, her boyfriend at the time thought they were intruders and, fired, and in return officers opened fire into the apartment and that's what led to her death. So the fact that she, you know, admitted in court to falsifying the search warrant, um, is a really big move, and could have implications for the other three officers facing charges as well.

NIALA: So Shawna, when we say falsified, what does that mean?

SHAWNA: The department of justice said Godlett admitted that all of the information in the warrant affidavit justifying the no-knock entry for Taylor's home was false as it related to Taylor. So she admitted that there was no valid reason to seek the no-knock warrant that eventually led to Taylor's killing.

NIALA: And so are prosecutors alleging this was part of a larger conspiracy attempt or cover up?

SHAWNA: Yeah. So two other officers are facing similar charges for falsifying the search warrant. And from what it looks like from the plea agreement, those two were the ones who were instigating more of a coverup and the falsification. Goodlett, based on the plea agreement, at least seemed to have been strong along a little bit. based on the plea agreement, it seemed that she felt unable to, speak out against, her superiors essentially, who were leading, um, this investigation and who were kind of instigating the falsification of the search warrant. In the plea agreement, it says that she was ostracized early in her career for attempting to report a fellow officer's use of excessive force, and so that's why she didn't feel comfortable speaking up because she felt that there would be repercussions. She faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three year term of supervised release. But, a lot of people are saying that her testimony could prove crucial, uh, as prosecutors pursue cases against the other three officers.

NIALA: Axios’ Shawna Chen. Thanks Shawna.

SHAWNA: Thank you. Niala

NIALA: One last story before we go: President Biden is expected to make an announcement today on student loan debt forgiveness. Here’s a refresher on what U.S. student debt looks like, by the numbers:

Borrowers owe a total of about 1.75 trillion dollars as of Aug. 5, that’s according to the Federal Reserve.

The average American household with student debt owes just about $59,000, that’s according to a 2021 study by NerdWallet.

President Biden’s expected action could affect as many as 45 million borrowers.

That’s it for us today! Remember to follow us on Apple podcasts, if that’s where you listen – these days you do that by hitting the little “plus” sign in the upper right corner of the screen on our podcast in the app. And that’s free - no paid subscription needed! While you’re there, if you wouldn’t mind give us a rating and a review. It helps other people find the show too. Thanks to everyone who’s already done this. I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks also for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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