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The U.S. Department of Justice today announced federal charges against four current or former police officers who were involved in the drug raid that killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT and aspiring nurse, at her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13, 2020. With one exception, this is the first time that any officers have been charged in connection with the deadly operation, which was based on a flimsy and falsified search warrant affidavit that relied almost entirely on Taylor's connection to a former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, a suspected drug dealer.
Former detective Joshua Jaynes, who wrote that affidavit, is charged with willfully violating Taylor's Fourth Amendment rights under color of law by seeking a warrant without probable cause. The Justice Department says his affidavit "contained false and misleading statements, omitted material facts, relied on stale information, and was not supported by probable cause." Because the resulting search warrant led to Taylor's death, Jaynes could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Sgt. Kyle Meany, who approved the affidavit and is still employed by the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD), faces the same charge. He is also charged with making a false statement to federal investigators by claiming that police sought a no-knock search warrant for Taylor's apartment because the LMPD's SWAT unit had requested it. That offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Jaynes also is charged with falsifying records in a federal investigation and with conspiracy for "agreeing with another detective to cover up the false warrant affidavit after Taylor's death by drafting a false investigative letter and making false statements to criminal investigators." The other detective, Kelly Goodlett, likewise faces a conspiracy charge, for "conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the search warrant for Taylor's home and to cover up their actions afterward." The obstruction charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and the conspiracy charges are punishable by up to five years.
The one defendant who was previously charged, former detective Brett Hankison, is accused of violating constitutional rights under color of law by blindly firing 10 rounds through "a covered window and covered glass door," thereby endangering Taylor, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, and three neighbors. Last March, a state jury acquitted Hankison of "wanton endangerment" based on the same reckless conduct, which had resulted in his dismissal. The federal charge is somewhat different, since it is based on willful civil rights violations and names Taylor and Walker as victims along with their neighbors.
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