How Much Time Behind Bars Should The Lying Cop Who Got Breonna Taylor Killed Do?

A ground mural depicting a portrait of Breonna Taylor is seen at Chambers Park in Annapolis, Md., July 6, 2020. The mural honors Taylor, a 26-year old Black woman who was fatally shot by police in her Louisville, Ky., apartment. A former Louisville police detective who helped write the warrant that led to the deadly police raid at Taylor’s apartment has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.

What’s an adequate sentence for embodying everything wrong with policing in American cities?

It’s a hard question to put a number to since there’s no federal sentencing guidelines for being a miscreant cop. What’s clear is that the five year maximum federal sentence for former Louisville cop Kelly Goodlett ain’t good enough. Goodlett pleaded guilty in August to federal conspiracy charges, admitting that she lied to obtain the search warrant that enabled the raid in which her fellow officers shot Breonna Taylor to death in Taylor’s own apartment. When she’s sentenced next month, Goodlett will be the first former officer to go to jail in connection with the killing, which was criminal no matter how Kentucky Attorney General and wanna-be governor Daniel Cameron contorts himself to please the bAcK tHe BlUe crowd.

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Goodlett’s admission of guilt two years after her deadly misdeed is a little like catching your kid admitting they went in to the cookie jar only after you caught them with a mouthful of snacks. At least it would be like that if lying about eating cookies had bigger consequences than spoiling dinner, consequences like making an innocent woman lose her life and triggering citywide protests that led to the death of another man when cops and National Guard troops opened fire with non-lethal pellets, then live rounds, on peaceful protestors.

The feds might have charged Goodlett with what was available to them under the law but her criminality goes way beyond what the government was capable of getting her to admit to. The Associated Press put it this way:

Protest leaders who took to the streets of Kentucky’s largest city after she was fatally shot by police say Goodlett’s confession confirms their suspicions that Louisville police can’t be trusted and that systemic issues run deep. They say officers abused demonstrators after the botched raid, and that her fatal shooting is just one of many reasons why the community remains wary.

I can’t tell you exactly how many years in prison being the catalyst for that much violence and suffering and distrust are worth. I’ve written about my friend who did two decades in prison on a murder conviction that ended up being overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct. I have an uncle whose been locked up at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution-Somerset since 1984, over a robbery. I have friends and relatives who have been in jails and prisons for the kinds of petty weed convictions that President Biden promised to wipe from their records last week.

I gotta imagine Kelly Goodlett’s time shouldn’t be any shorter than theirs.