The U.S. Department of Justice charged four current and former Louisville, Kentucky, police officers with a range of federal crimes in connection with the death of Breonna Taylor. The 26-year-old was killed in her apartment in May 2020 by police executing a search warrant.
According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the alleged crimes include civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction offenses. The defendants were charged through two separate indictments.
“On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home as usual, but tragically she did not,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. “Since the founding of our nation, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution has guaranteed that all people have a right to be secure in their homes, free from false warrants, unreasonable searches and the use of unjustifiable and excessive force by the police.”
Detective Joshua Jaynes faces the most serious charges. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he and Sgt. Kyle Meany are accused of falsifying the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant and knew they lacked probable cause. According to the Justice Department, they omitted material evidence and made false and misleading statements. Garland said those actions violated Ms. Taylor’s civil rights and caused her death.
The Justice Department also alleged that after Taylor died, Detective Jaynes conspired with Detective Kelly Goodlett to cover up their fabricated search warrant by writing a false letter of investigation and lying to criminal investigators.
According to the Justice Department, the obstruction counts could lead to up to 20 years in prison, while the conspiracy and false statement charges carry a maximum five year penalty.
Detective Brett Hankinson is also charged with two counts of using excessive force for firing his gun through a covered window and covered glass door. Those bullets went through the walls of Ms. Taylor’s apartment and into her neighbor’s unit. The indictments allege Hankinson used a dangerous weapon with the intent to kill.
“We share, but we cannot fully imagine the grief felt by Breonna Taylor’s loved ones and all of those affected by the events of March 13th, 2020. Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Garland said.
In addition to the charges against the individual officers, the Justice Department is conducting an ongoing investigation into whether the Louisville Metro Police Department is engaging in a pattern or practice of law enforcement misconduct, including excessive force, improper searches and racial discrimination.