Two current and two former police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, have been charged with violating Breonna Taylor's civil rights in the 2020 botched raid that led to the young Black woman's death, federal officials said Thursday.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, in announcing the charges, said the Department of Justice alleges that the violations "resulted in Ms. Taylor's death."
Detective Joshua Jaynes, with the Louisville Metro Police Department, obtained the warrant used in the March 13, 2020, search of the 26-year-old medical worker's apartment.
Kelly Goodlett, who along with Jaynes was a detective in the Place-Based Investigations unit that investigated drug trafficking, and Sgt. Kyle Meany, who supervised the unit, were charged with falsifying an affidavit.
Jaynes and Goodlett are accused of misleading investigators probing the deadly shooting. Meany allegedly lied to the FBI, Garland said.
In a separate indictment, Brett Hankison was charged with using excessive force while executing the search warrant.
Hankison was terminated from the department in June 2020, while Jaynes was terminated in January 2021, Louisville police said in a statement Thursday. The department is also seeking to terminate Goodlett and Meany, the statement said.
"Today Chief Erika Shields began termination procedures of Sgt. Kyle Meany and Officer Kelly Goodlett. While we must refer all questions about this federal investigation to the FBI, it is critical that any illegal or inappropriate actions by law enforcement be addressed comprehensively in order to continue our efforts to build police-community trust," police said.
A lawyer believed to be representing Jaynes could not be immediately reached Thursday. Attorney Stew Mathews, who has previously represented Hankison, said he did not know yet whether he would be representing him in the federal case.
Mathews said he spoke to Hankison on Thursday morning while he was "on his way to turn himself in" but has not spoken to him since then.
An attorney representing Meany could not be reached. It was unclear if Goodlett had retained an attorney.
Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement Thursday it’s been a difficult two years since Taylor’s death for her family and advocates fighting for her.
“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 statement said. “There are still so many families who are fighting and praying for justice and accountability in situations where their loved ones were wrongfully killed by the police. We need to stand with them, pray with them, and do whatever is possible for them.”
During the early morning raid, officers opened fire, killing Taylor, after her boyfriend, believing an intruder was trying to break in, fired a gun toward the door.
Taylor’s boyfriend lawfully possessed the gun, Garland said. And after he fired and struck an officer, two officers then fired 22 shots, one of which fatally struck Taylor in the chest, Garland said.
"The federal charges announced today allege that members of the Place-Based Investigations unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor's home," Garland said, adding "that this act violated federal civil rights laws and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor's death."
An investigation by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron determined officers knocked and announced themselves as police before entering Taylor’s apartment. He said this was corroborated by a civilian witness.
Garland also said Thursday the search warrant was sought while officers knew they lacked probable cause for the search. Jaynes and Goodlett, Garland said, falsely claimed officers verified the target of the alleged drug trafficking had received packages at Taylor's address.
"Defendants Jaynes and Goodlett knew that was not true," Garland said.
The bungled raid targeted Taylor's ex-boyfriend, a convicted drug dealer, who was not in the apartment at the time. That man, Jamarcus Glover, has said Taylor had no involvement in the drug trade.
The officers involved in the raid were unaware of the misleading statements in the search warrant affidavit, Garland said.
Hankison is charged with using excessive force, Garland said, because after Taylor was shot, he moved from a doorway and fired 10 more shots through a window and a sliding glass door covered with blinds and curtains.
Hankison was found not guilty on all counts in March of endangering a couple and their 5-year-old son the night of the raid. He was accused of endangering Cody Etherton, his partner, Chelsey Napper, and their son when he fired shots that went into their apartment.