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© Provided by People Breonna Taylor/instagram Breonna Taylor
Four current and former Louisville Metro Police officers were charged Thursday in connection with the botched raid that resulted in Breonna Taylor's killing in 2020.
Former officers Joshua Jaynes and Brett Hankison, along with officer Kelly Hanna Goodlett and Sgt. Kyle Meany, who remain on the force, were arrested and charged in two separate federal indictments with civil rights and obstruction offenses, as well as unlawful conspiracies and unconstitutional use of force, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday at a press conference.
4 current, former Louisville police officers charged in in death of Breonna Taylor
The Justice Department has filed civil rights violations charges in connection with a 2020 raid that killed Breonna Taylor. "The federal charges announced today allege that members of a Police Investigations Unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor's home and that this act violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor's death," Garland said in a news conference.
Jaynes, Goodlett and Meany were accused of falsifying the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant of Taylor's Louisville apartment in March of 2020.
"This act violated federal civil rights laws and those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor's death," Garland said.
"Breonna Taylor should be alive today," he said.
Taylor, an aspiring nurse who had been working as an EMT, was in her apartment with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shortly after midnight on the night of March 13 when Louisville Metro Police officers executing a no-knock warrant charged through the door and fired more than 20 shots, killing Taylor.
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Garland alleged Taylor's rights were violated when Jaynes, who was fired from the department in 2021, along with Meany and Goodlett, sought the warrant to search Taylor's home "knowing that the officers lacked probable cause for the search."
4 Louisville officers face federal charges in drug raid that led to Breonna Taylor's death
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black medical worker, was shot to death by Louisville, Ky., officers who had knocked down her door while executing a search warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot that hit one of the officers as they came through the door and they returned fire, striking Taylor multiple times.Hankison, who was dismissed from the department in 2020, was one of the officers at Taylor’s door and one of three who fired shots that night. He was acquitted by a jury of state charges of wanton endangerment earlier this year in Louisville.Jaynes had applied for the warrant to search Taylor’s house.
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"We allege that the defendants knew the affidavit in support of that warrant contained false and misleading information and that it omitted material information," Garland said.
Authorities also allege that Jaynes and Meany "knew the search warrant would be carried out by armed LMPD officers and that conducting that search could create a dangerous situation for anyone who happened to be in Ms. Taylor's home."
Garland alleged the officers also "took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct" after her death.
Jaynes and Goodlett allegedly met in a garage weeks after the shooting in May "where they agreed to tell investigators a false story," the attorney general alleged.
Hankison, who fired 10 bullets into Taylor's home, three of which pierced the wall and entered a neighbor's apartment, was acquitted earlier this year on wanton endangerment charges in state court. The FBI charged him with federal civil rights offenses for firing his service weapon into Taylor's apartment, Garland said.
Charges in Breonna Taylor's Death Explained, Potential Sentences
The Justice Department said the officers were charged with "civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, obstruction offenses, and use of excessive force."During a press conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that his office has filed federal charges against Louisville Metro Police Department's Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany, as well as against former Detective Kelly Goodlett and former Officer Brett Hankison.
"Hankison traveled away from Ms. Taylor's doorway to the side of the building and fired 10 shots into Breonna Taylor's apartment through a bedroom window and a sliding glass door that were both covered with blinds and curtains," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke at the press conference. "Hankison's use of excessive force violated the rights of Breonna Taylor and her guest and also of her neighbors, whose lives were endangered by bullets that penetrated into their apartment."
Hankison's attorney Stew Mathews tells PEOPLE the charges "were a total surprise."
"I had no idea when it was going to happen or if it was going to happen," he says.
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"I would assume he will contest it just like we did in Kentucky," Mathews says. "We already dealt with it once in Kentucky. We will see what shakes out."
PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach attorneys for the other three suspects.
Death of the African -American Breonna Taylor: four police officers accused by federal justice
© AP - Timothy D. Easley A demonstrator brandished the portrait of Breonna Taylor during a rally to commemorate the first anniversary of his death, In Louisville (Kentucky), on March 13, 2021. inculpations in a case that has become emblematic of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, that of the death of the African-American Breonna Taylor. Four police officers will have to respond to violations of the American federal law.
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Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, who represented Taylor's family, applauded the charges.
"Today was a huge step toward justice," they said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "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 statement added, in part, "On behalf of Breonna's family, thank you to all who have continued to say her name, continued to pray, continued to fight, and continued to shut down all of the hate, negativity, and lies. There have been so many dark days, so many times when hope was lost. We cannot emphasize enough how pivotal your voices and support have been to keep us going."
Taylor became a face for the Black Lives Matter movement following her death. Her killing, along with the murder of George Floyd two months later, sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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