Four Louisville cops face federal charges

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Four Louisville cops face federal charges

Four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department officers were hit with federal charges related to the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot during a law enforcement raid at her apartment two years ago, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday. 

Former officers Joshua Haynes, Kelly Goodlett, and Brett Hankison and current Sgt. Kyle Meany were charged in two separate indictments with “civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies and use of force and obstruction offenses” related to Taylor’s death. 

Haynes, Goodlett and Meany are accused of committing civil right offenses in the falsification of a no-knock search warrant, Garland said.

“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. 

“This act violated federal civil rights laws and those violations resulted in Miss Taylor’s death.”

In March 2020, Louisville cops shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old black medical worker, when they attempted to carry out the no-knock warrant at her home. During the incident, her boyfriend fired at the officers, believing an intruder was entering the apartment. Taylor was shot multiple times when the police returned fire.

Brett Hankison was among those charged.
Brett Hankison was among those charged.
Louisville PD
Kelly Goodlett is accused of committing civil right offenses.
Kelly Goodlett is accused of committing civil right offenses.
LMPD
Sgt. Kale Meany discusses evidence during Hankison's trial in Feb. 2022.
Sgt. Kale Meany discusses evidence during Hankison’s trial in Feb. 2022.
AP
Former Louisville officer Joshua Jaynes's 2020 mugshot after the fatal shooting.
Former Louisville officer Joshua Jaynes’s 2020 mugshot after the fatal shooting.

The Department of Justice believes cops knew the affidavit used to support the warrant contained “false and misleading information,” including the fact that officers had “verified that the target of the alleged drug trafficking operation had received packages at Ms. Taylor’s address,” Garland said.

“We alleged that the defendants knew their actions and falsifying the affidavit could create a dangerous situation and we allege these unlawful acts resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Garland continued, noting that the officers conducting the warrant were unaware of its false and misleading statements. 

Jaynes and Goodlett have also been accused of conspiring to “mislead federal, state, and local authorities” investigating the incident after Taylor’s death. 

“For example, we allege that in May 2020, those two defendants met in a garage where they agreed to tell investigators a false story,” Garland said. 

The DOJ separately alleges that Meany “lied to the FBI during its investigation in this manner.”

Breonna Taylor was shot eight times on March 13, 2020.
Breonna Taylor was shot eight times on March 13, 2020.
Courtesy of Family of Breonna Ta

Hankison – who was found not guilty earlier this year of state charges on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in connection to the shooting – has been charged with two civil rights offenses, with the DOJ alleging he “willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force while ending in his confession official capacity as an officer.”

The former detective was among the several officers conducting the search warrant and blindly shot 10 bullets through a covered window and sliding glass door. He was dismissed from the department in 2020.

“Community Safety dictates that police officers use their weapons only when necessary to defend their own lives or the lives of others and even then, that they must do so with great care and caution,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.

“Today’s indictment alleges that Hankinson’s use of excessive force violated the rights of breonna Taylor and her guests and also of her neighbors whose lives were endangered by bullets that penetrated into their apartment.”

The scene outside Taylor's apartment after the fatal police entry.
The scene outside Taylor’s apartment after the fatal police entry.
Louisville Metro Police

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is also conducting a separate investigation into a potential pattern of misconduct at the Louisville Metro Police Department – including excessive force, improper searches or racially discriminatory policing, Clarke said.

“Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Garland said Thursday. “The Justice Department is committed to defending and protecting the civil rights of every person in this country. That was this department’s founding purpose and it remains our urgent mission.”

Jaynes’ attorney Thomas Clay confirmed his client was arrested by the FBI earlier that morning.

Initially, Clay indicated it was unclear what the official charges were, according to the Courier-Journal, but said he believed they were related to conspiracy to falsify records in connection with a federal investigation. 

Jaynes was fired from his position with the department in January 2021 after then-interim Chief Yvette Gentry found he lied to a judge to obtain the warrant to search Taylor’s apartment the previous year. 

The aftermath of Taylor's killing incited a new wave of outrage across the United States.
The aftermath of Taylor’s killing incited a new wave of outrage across the United States.
Louisville Metro Police

In his affidavit to obtain the warrant, Jaynes claimed he verified through a US Postal Inspector that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend and suspected drug dealer Jamarcus Glover had been having packages delivered to her apartment, per the outlet. 

However, Jaynes actually heard the claim from another officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly. Mattingly also did not receive the information from a postal inspector, but from the Shively Police. Officers with that department later confirmed postal inspectors said there were no packages. 

Gentry also fired two other officers connected to Taylor’s death last year, Myles Cosgrove, who the FBI concluded fired the shot that killed her, as well as Hankison.

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