The Department of Justice has filed charges against four Louisville police officers in connection to the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in March of 2020.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland made the announcement on Thursday regarding the charges involving “civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction offenses” being filed against four former and current officers.
During his announcement, Garland said, “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.”
In March of 2021, officers arrived at Taylor’s house during the early morning hours (typical of a search warrant of that kind) and allegedly conducted a no-knock warrant. The officers were searching locations connected with Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, who was being investigated for supplying drugs to a local dealer. Taylor had also previously been accused of participating, although no charges were ever brought against her.
The presence of a knock-and-announce by police has been debated, and even Walker himself said that he asked who was at the door but “got no response,” indicating that he knew there was a at least a knock. Neighbors also reported hearing
After kicking in the door, Kenneth Walker started shooting at police, who shot back, striking and killing Taylor.
Taylor is still reported to have been an emergency room technician by many media outlets, but it was discovered that Taylor was no longer working as such for unknown reasons.
Three officers, current officers Joshua Jaynes and Kyle Meany, as well as former detective Kelly Goodlett, are alleged to have violated Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights in obtaining the search warrant. Garland said that the officers “lacked probable cause” and that they “knew their affidavit supporting the contained false and misleading information and omitted other material information, resulting in her death.”
The DOJ is also accusing Goodlett and Jaynes of conspiracy for allegedly “falsifying the affidavit for a search warrant.”
According to ABC News, “Prosecutors allege that Jaynes and Goodlett met in a garage after Taylor’s death ‘where they agreed to tell investigators’ looking into the botched raid ‘a false story.'”
Former officer Brett Hankison is also being charged with civil rights offenses, being handed “a two-count indictment for deprivation of rights under color of law.” Hankison is accused of using “unconstitutional excessive force” for firing 10 shots through windows which were covered by blinds, during which time, the DOJ said, “there was no longer a lawful objective justifying the use of deadly force.”
In March of this year, Hankison was acquitted on three counts of felony wanton endangerment for the same shooting, where he was being charged for endangering Taylor’s neighbors since some of the shots went through the apartment walls. He was the only officer facing criminal charges at the time, and he argued that the shots fired during the “chaotic situation” were done so to protect his fellow officers, including one officer who had already been shot.
Hankison, who was fired in June of 2020, provided recorded testimony and said that the officers in the situation were “sitting ducks.” He said that he felt “horrible” when he learned his gunshots had endangered other people in an adjoining apartment, as well as for how the raid happened in the first place.
That verdict was delivered after three hours of jury deliberation. Stewart Mathews, Hankison’s attorney, said following the ruling, “Justice was done. The verdict was proper, and we are thrilled.”