LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Federal Bureau of Investigations has arrested four current and former Louisville Metro Police officers in relation to Breonna Taylor's death.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday charges include violating Taylor's civil rights, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force, and obstruction offenses.
The officers charged include former LMPD detectives Joshua Jaynes and Brett Hankison, and current LMPD Sgt. Kyle Meany and officer Kelly Goodlett.
LMPD Police Chief Erika Shields says termination procedures for Meany and Goodlett have begun.
Jaynes, who was the lead investigator in the case, was the officer who signed the search warrant that lead to Taylor's death on March 13, 2020.
Garland said the federal charges allege the officers falsified information on the search warrant used to enter Taylor's home, violating her fourth amendment rights, which resulted in her death.
"The officers who ultimately carried out the search at Ms. Taylor's apartment were not involved in the drafting of the warrant and were unaware of the false and misleading statements it contained," he said.
The DOJ said in May 2020, Jaynes and Goodlett met in Jaynes' home garage where they agreed to tell investigators a falsified story.
In the federal indictment filed against Jaynes and Meany, investigators allege that Jaynes told Goodlett that "they could both go down for putting false information" in the search warrant for Taylor's home.
Jaynes and Goodlett are also accused of agreeing "to tell investigators a false story."
Court documents filed against Goodlett show she has been charged but not indicted.
Meany is accused of lying to the FBI during its investigation.
The indictment states Meany "falsely told an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation that a paragraph requesting authority to make a no-knock entry at Taylor's home was included in the Springfield Drive warrant affidavit because officers on LMPD's SWAT unit had, during a planning meeting on or about March 5, 2020, asked for no-knock authority at that location."
Investigators say Meany in fact knew that SWAT didn't ask for the no-knock.
Another indictment was filed against Hankison, accusing him of using excessive force when he blindly fired 10 shots into Taylor's apartment and a neighbor's apartment despite blinds and curtains being drawn.
Garland said Hankison used unlawful excessive force and therefore violated the civil rights of Taylor and her neighbors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke said community safety requires police officers to use their weapons only when necessary to protect themselves or others. "Even then," she said. "They must do so with great care and caution."
Hankison had previously been charged on the state level with wanton endangerment for his actions. In March, he was found not guilty.
LMPD had fired Hankison prior to his trial, and Thursday the police department announced that Meany and Goodlett were in the process of being fired.
In the statement, LMPD said, "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."
"Breonna Taylor should be alive today," Garland said. "The Justice Department is committed to defending and protecting the civil rights of every person in this country."
Attorney General Daniel Cameron responded to the DOJ's charges on Twitter, saying:
Today, President Biden’s Department of Justice brought federal civil rights charges against four individuals in connection with the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor. As in every prosecution, our office supports the impartial administration of justice, but it is important that people not conflate what happened today with the state law investigation undertaken by our office. Our primary task was to investigate whether the officers who executed the search warrant were criminally responsible for Ms. Taylor’s death under state law. At the conclusion of our investigation, our prosecutors submitted the information to a state grand jury, which ultimately resulted in criminal charges being brought against Mr. Brett Hankison for wanton endangerment. I’m proud of the work of our investigators & prosecutors. This case and the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life have generated national attention. People across the country have grieved, and there isn’t a person I’ve spoken to across our 120 counties that isn’t saddened by her loss. There are those, however, who want to use this moment to divide Kentuckians, misrepresent the facts of the state investigation, and broadly impugn the character of our law enforcement community. I won’t participate in that sort of rancor. It’s not productive. Instead, I’ll continue to speak with the love and respect that is consistent with our values as Kentuckians.
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