Four current and former Kentucky police officers have been arrested on a series of federal charges for their roles in a botched search warrant that was executed at Breonna Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, and resulted in her death.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on August 4 that Kelly Goodlett, Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany and Brett Hankison, all with, or formerly with, the Louisville Metro Police Department, have been charged with civil rights offenses, unconstitutional use of force, obstruction and conspiracy.
According to Garland, detectives Goodlett and Jaynes, who worked in the Place-Based Investigations Unit supervised by Meany, wrongfully obtained the search warrant of Taylor’s home, and Meany allegedly lied to the FBI during the investigation.
Garland said that he believes the officers’ violations led to the death of Taylor. “I share but cannot imagine the grief of the family and loved ones of Breonna Taylor from events that resulted in her death … Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” he said.
The Taylor family’s attorney, Ben Crump, who specializes in civil rights cases, believes that justice was obtained. “This day is about (Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer), her family,” he said. “It’s about Breonna, and all the other Breonnas across America. The Black women who have been denied justice throughout the history of this country when they have been abused, assaulted, murdered, raped and disregarded. Because of Breonna Taylor, we can say this is a day that Black women saw equal justice in the United States of America.”
Court records show that detectives Goodlett and Jaynes were charged with two conspiracy counts. Jaynes was fired in 2021, and the department is currently seeking to fire Goodlett and Meany.
“Today Chief Erika Shields began termination procedures of Sergeant 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,” the department said.
DOJ investigators claim that Goodlett and Jaynes falsified an affidavit using misleading information in order to obtain a search warrant of Taylor’s home as part of a drug trafficking investigation.
During the search, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at police because he thought they were intruders attempting to break into the apartment. Police then fired 32 shots through the door. Taylor was shot six times and died, while Walker survived.
The officers involved in the raid were not aware that the information used to obtain the warrant had been falsified.
After Taylor’s death, the detectives allegedly conspired to cover up the details of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant.
DOJ officials say that Goodlett did not object to false claims by Jaynes that a postal inspector had verified sending illicit packages to Taylor’s address.
“Despite knowing that this allegation was false, (Goodlett) failed to change the statement or object to it,” court records show.
The records also allege that Goodlett texted, called and met with Jaynes to concoct a cover story, saying that they needed to “get on the same page because they could both go down for putting false information in the Springfield Drive warrant affidavit.”
Hankison, who was also fired prior to the charges, was previously charged at the state level and found not guilty of wanton endangerment.
Garland said that the Justice Department brings charges “when we believe substantial federal interests have not been vindicated and need to be vindicated.”