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After 874 Days, the U.S. Department of Justice Files Charges Against Four Officers in Breonna Taylor’s Death

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D.T. Carson

For the last 874 days, Tamika Palmer has been waiting for justice to be served in the case of her 26-year old daughter, Breonna Taylor, who was killed in a fatal raid on her Louisville, Kentucky apartment in 2020. Today, the U.S. Department of Justice charged four former and current Louisville police officers with federal crimes in connection with the deadly incident that sparked national headlines.

An announcement by U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland of the arrest and indictments of ex-detectives Joshua Jaynes and Brett Hankison and current officers Kyle Meany and Kelly Goodlett for civil rights offenses, unconstitutional use of force, obstruction, falsifying information and unlawful conspiracies was the result of a federal investigation following attorney General Daniel Cameron decision not to pursue charges against the officers involved in Taylor’s death.

“Among other things,” said Garland, the federal charges announced today allege that members of LMPD’s Place-Based Investigations Unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor’s home, that this act violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”

“Today is long overdue but it still hurts.” said Palmer.

National Bar Association President Lonita Baker, who is co-counsel for Taylor’s family said that the charges reflect that the officers never should have been there that fateful night.

“We have been saying they lied,” Baker said. “We have been saying Breonna was not involved, and we have been saying they should not have been at Breonna’s home. We have been saying that officers should be held accountable for Breonna Taylor’s murder. And today, is the first day towards getting that justice.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clark confirmed that it was a false affidavit that set in motion the events that resulted in Taylor’s death.

“Today’s indictments allege that Louisville Police Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany drafted and approved what they knew was a false affidavit to support a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home,” Clark said.

“Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home, as usual, on the morning of March 13, 2020. Tragically, she did not.

“In a separate indictment, the grand jury charges former LMPD Detective Brett Hankinson with using unconstitutionally excessive force during the raid on Ms. Taylor’s home,” Clark continued. “Without a lawful objective justifying the use of deadly force, defendant Hankinson traveled away from Ms. Taylor’s doorway to the side of the building and fired 10 shots into Ms. Taylor’s apartment through a bedroom window and a sliding glass door that were both covered with blinds and curtains.

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

Clark concluded her remarks with condolences to Taylor’s family. “Today, we acknowledge the loss of her life, recognize her dignity, and recommit ourselves to the pursuit of justice.”

Goodlett was “charged on information,” which typically means she has pleaded guilty or plans to. She was charged with one count of conspiracy.

“This is a historic day,” said Benjamin Crump, who serves as the family’s attorney. “A day when Black women saw equal justice in America.”


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