Home National news DOJ charges officers in death of Breonna Taylor

DOJ charges officers in death of Breonna Taylor

A mural in Minneapolis, Minnesota depicting three Black Americans who were killed by police officers in 2020: George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor. This mural was painted by Leslie Barlow as part of the Creatives After Curfew program organized by Leslie Barlow, Studio 400, and Public Functionary.

Say her name.

Breonna Taylor’s family may finally get justice after the Department of Justice charged four current and former police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, who were involved in the fatal March 2020 raid on her apartment.

The DOJ accused the officers of lying to obtain a warrant that was used to search her home when they knocked her door down and opened fire.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that members of an investigative unit within the Louisville Metro Police Department had included false information in an affidavit that was then used to obtain a warrant to search Taylor’s home.

He told reporters at a hastily called news conference that prosecutors believed the officers “violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Taylor’s death.”

Three of the officers also misled investigators who began looking into Taylor’s death, Garland said, including two that he said had met in a garage in the spring of 2020 and “agreed to tell investigators a false story.”

“On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home as usual, but tragically she did not,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.

“Since the founding of our nation, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution has guaranteed that all people have a right to be secure in their homes, free from false warrants, unreasonable searches, and the use of unjustifiable and excessive force by the police.

“These indictments reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and to protecting the constitutional rights of every American.”

According to a DOJ release, the first indictment charges former Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Detective Joshua Jaynes, 40, and current LMPD Sergeant Kyle Meany, 35, with federal civil rights and obstruction offenses for their roles in preparing and approving a false search warrant affidavit that resulted in Taylor’s death.

The second indictment charges former LMPD Detective Brett Hankison, 46, with civil rights offenses for firing his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door.

The third charging document, and information filed by the Department of Justice, charges LMPD Detective Kelly Goodlett with conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the search warrant for Taylor’s home and to cover up their actions afterward.

The charges are separate from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s pattern or practice investigation into Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department, which Attorney General Garland announced on April 26, 2021, the DOJ news release stated.

The charges are criminal against individual officers, while the ongoing pattern or practice investigation is a civil investigation that is examining allegations of systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by LMPD and Louisville Metro, the DOJ noted.

The civil pattern or practice investigation is being handled independently from the criminal case by a different team of career staff.

Further, the charges are also separate from the charges previously filed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky against Hankison related to the shooting at Taylor’s home.

The federal charges allege violations of the U.S. Constitution, rather than of state law.

“They also allege excessive use of force with respect to Taylor and a person staying in her apartment—violations not included in the Commonwealth’s case,” DOJ officials wrote in the news release.

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