Officers charged in connection with Breonna Taylor's death met in a garage and agreed to tell investigators a 'false story,' feds say

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Federal prosecutors charged four current and former Louisville police officers in connection with the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March 2020.Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Frontline Action Hub
  • Four current or former police officers were charged in connection with Breonna Taylor's death.

  • Taylor was fatally shot in March 2020 during a botched raid of her apartment in Louisville.

  • The Justice Department said officers conspired to cover up a falsified affidavit behind the search.

Just months after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, two Louisville police detectives met in a garage and agreed to mislead investigators examining the botched raid that resulted in her death, the Justice Department alleged Thursday.

At a press conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department charged four current and former Louisville police officers in connection with Taylor's death. Garland said the charges include allegations that Louisville police falsified an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for Taylor's home, in violation of civil rights laws.

Garland said "those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor's death."

"Breonna Taylor should be alive today," he said.

In court filings, prosecutors alleged that two officers — former detective Joshua Jaynes and Detective Kelly Goodlett — later took steps to cover up their falsification of the affidavit as investigators scrutinized the shooting.

In May 2020, the two met in the garage and agreed to tell a "false story," Garland said.

The charges come more than two years after the March 2020 shooting of Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was asleep with her boyfriend when Louisville police officers forced their way into her apartment.  Her boyfriend, believing the officers were intruders, shot at them.

Two officers responded by firing 22 shots into the apartment, Garland said.

"One of those shots hit Ms. Taylor in the chest and killed her," he said.

In a separate case, federal prosecutors charged Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police detective, with using excessive force during the raid of Taylor's home. Prosecutors said Hankison fired 10 shots through a bedroom window and sliding glass door, both of which were covered with blinds and curtains, sending bullets ripping through the wall of Taylor's home and into her neighbors' apartment.

"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," said Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's civil rights division. "Today's indictment alleges that Hankison's use of excessive force violated the rights of Breanna Taylor and her guest and also of her neighbors, whose lives were endangered by bullets that penetrated into their apartment."

A fourth Louisville police officer, Sgt. Kyle Meany, was charged with preparing and approving a false affidavit to obtain a warrant to search Taylor's home. Prosecutors alleged that Meany and Jaynes knew the affidavit contained false and misleading statements, omitted significant facts, and relied upon stale information.

Garland on Thursday said the indictment also alleges that Jaynes and Meany knew the search would be carried out by armed Louisville police officers — "and that conducting that search could create a dangerous situation for anyone who happened to be in Ms. Taylor's home."

The charges resulted from an investigation in which "no stone was left unturned," Clarke said.

She noted that the Justice Department is continuing to conduct a civil rights investigation into the Louisville police department to determine whether there is a pattern of misconduct.

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