Justice Department Charges Police Officers Involved in Breonna Taylor Shooting – Opinion

On Thursday, the FBI detained Joshua Jaynes, a former Louisville officer who was involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor. The incident also saw three other officers being charged with various offenses.

Fox News reported:

Current LMPD Sergeant. U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland announced that Kyle Meany, Detective Kelly Goodlett, and former Detective Brett Hankison were all charged with civil rights violations and conspiracy and falsifying documents and statements to federal investigators.

Garland stated that the charges “allege that members of the place-based investigations unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant” of Taylor’s home. He further stated that “This act violated federal civil rights laws” and “resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”

The attorney general said:

“Specifically, we allege that Ms. Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany and Kelly Goodlett sought a warrant to search Ms. Taylor’s home knowing that the officers lacked probable cause for the search.”

The Louisville Police Department (LPD) fired Jaynes in January last year after supervisors “said he lied on paperwork that lead to the March 2020 raid on Taylor’s apartment,” according to  Fox News.

Garland further explained that the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the officers involved in the investigation were “responsible for falsifying the affidavit that led to the search took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct after Ms. Taylor was killed.” He also said the agency is alleging that the Jaynes and Goodlett “conspired to knowingly falsify an investigative document that was created after Ms. Taylor’s death.”

As an example, the attorney general said the officers allegedly “met in a garage where they agreed to tell investigators a false story.”

Garland added details to the allegations by explaining that Jaynes had previously sworn in front of a judge, stating that Jaynes had checked through U.S. Postal Inspector that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a suspected drug dealer, was having packages delivered to her home. Later, Jaynes discovered that she had not talked to the postal inspector and had received the information instead from Sergeant. Jonathan Mattingly received information from Shively Police. According to officers working with Shively Police, the postal inspectors said there were no packages going to Taylor’s apartment. After the shooting, officers found no drugs in Taylor’s apartment.

Officer Hankison is being charged with two civil rights offenses alleging that he “willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force while acting in his official capacity as an officer.” This charge is related to the officer firing ten more shots through a window that were covered by blinds and curtains after Taylor was shot.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, said on Thursday that it was “a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor.”

Crump and the other family attorneys made the following joint statement:

It was a significant step forward in the pursuit of justice. We are grateful for the diligence and dedication of the FBI and the DOJ as they investigated what led to Breonna’s murder and what transpired afterwards. Without the tireless efforts of Assistant AG for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke and Attorney General Merrick Garland, Breonna would never have received the justice she has today.

“We hope this announcement of a guilty plea sends a message to all other involved officers that it is time to stop covering up and time to accept responsibility for their roles in causing the death of an innocent, beautiful young Black woman,” the statement read.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron faced criticism after he said that Hankison would only be prosecuted in connection to the highly publicized shooting. But it appears the DOJ believes it has evidence that the officers violated Taylor’s civil rights.

The case will be back in the public eye due to this news. It might also prompt more conversations about the type of no-knock raids that resulted in Breonna Taylor’s death. The DOJ is also conducting a comprehensive review of LMPD’s policies and assessing its internal operations when it comes to accountability and misconduct investigations.

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