Former Louisville cop pleads guilty to lying on Breonna Taylor search warrant

Former Louisville Metro Police Detective Kelly Hanna Goodlett pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Breonna Taylor for helping falsify an affidavit for the search of her apartment that ended in her death in March 2020.

Goodlett is expected to be a star witness at the trial of two of her ex-colleagues, Joshua Jaynes and Kyle Meany, when they are tried on civil rights charges in connection with Taylor’s death. A third ex-detective, Brett Hankison, is also charged in a separate federal indictment.

Goodlett, 35, admitted the charge before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings with Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, among those present in the courtroom. She is the first officer to be convicted in connection with Taylor's death.

Goodlett appeared Tuesday afternoon at the hearing inside the federal courthouse on West Broadway with attorney Brandon Marshall, with the former detective answering “yes, your honor,” and “yes, ma’am,” as the judge mostly asked her if she understood her rights and the accusations against her.

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Goodlett was previously released but ordered to surrender her passport and have no contact with her codefendants, including Hankison.

She faces a sentence of no more than five years in prison, plus up to a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Her sentencing tentatively is set for 1 p.m. Nov. 22, though Jennings noted that date may get pushed back.

After prosecutor Michael Songer, with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, read through the main facts in the plea agreement, Goodlett answered “yes, your honor” to the judge’s question if the facts were all true.

“Guilty,” she said near the end of the roughly 45-minute hearing, answering how she would plead.

Prosecutors, Goodlett, her attorney, Palmer and others did not immediately appear outside the federal courthouse after the hearing to offer any comment. Palmer later posted a photo of Goodlett to Instagram, with the image featuring a logo for Ben Crump's law firm and the words, "Kelly Goodlett Pleads Guilty To A Federal Charge in Breonna Taylor's Killing."

Some of the plea agreement remained under seal Tuesday, and it is unclear if Goodlett will testify against the other former officers charged in connection with Taylor's death. Crump, the nationally-known attorney who has represented Taylor's family, said earlier this month that Goodlett provided "pivotal" information to federal investigators.

Goodlett, who resigned from LMPD after the DOJ announced indictments against her and her three former colleagues earlier this month, admitted she falsely claimed a postal inspector had verified Taylor was receiving packages for her ex-boyfriend, convicted drug dealer Jamarcus Glover, at her apartment before the raid. In fact, postal inspectors said there was no evidence Taylor was receiving packages at her apartment.

The indictment of Jaynes alleges Goodlett met with Jaynes in his garage so they could “get on the same page” after a postal inspector said the claim that Taylor was receiving Glover's packages was bogus.

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Jaynes, 40, and Meany, 35, also face civil rights charges for the search that ended in Taylor's death, while Hankison, 46, is charged with violating the civil rights of Taylor; her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker; and three of Taylor’s neighbors; by blindly firing shots into her apartment.

Taylor was killed during a police raid March 13, 2020, on her apartment near Iroquois Park.

Police stormed into her home where she was sleeping with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Thinking an intruder was breaking in, he fired one shot that hit Sgt. John Mattingly in the leg. Mattingly and another detective, Myles Cosgrove, returned fire, killing Taylor.

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Hankison ran to the side and rear of the apartment building, firing through a window and a glass door protected by blinds and a blackout shade and sending several bullets into an adjacent apartment. He was charged and acquitted of wanton endangerment in Jefferson Circuit Court but is charged now in federal court with violating the civil rights of Taylor, Walker and two adults and a child in the other apartment.

Taylor was 26, and her death set off protests that lasted for months in Louisville and other cities. The city settled with Taylor's family in September 2020 for $12 million, with the settlement including a commitment to various LMPD reforms, such as requiring a commanding officer to review all search warrants and affidavits before they go to a judge.

Mattingly has since retired, and Cosgrove was fired. Neither has been charged because U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said "the officers who ultimately carried out the search at Taylor's apartment were not involved in the drafting of the warrant and were unaware of the false and misleading statements that it contained."

Jaynes and Meany are scheduled for trial Oct. 11 before Senior Judge Charles R. Simpson III, while Hankison’s trial is set for Oct. 13 before Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings. But both trials are almost certain to be postponed.

Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; awolfson@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @adwolfson.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Ex-LMPD cop pleads guilty to Breonna Taylor search warrant coverup