(CNN) — Four current and former Louisville police officers involved in the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s home, including the detectives who worked on the search warrant and the former officer accused of blindly shooting her home, have been charged with civil rights violations. and other charges, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday.
These are the first federal charges filed against any of the officers involved in the failed raid. In addition to civil rights offenses, federal authorities charged the four with unlawful conspiracy, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction, Garland said.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said she has waited 874 days for federal charges to be filed and has beaten “everything they’ve sent her to break her.” The death of her daughter has taken her to a “place we can’t even imagine,” she said.
“Every day has been March 13 for me,” Palmer said, referring to the day Taylor was shot to death in 2020.
Former Detective Joshua Jaynes, 40, Detective Kelly Goodlett and Sergeant Kyle Meany, 35, were charged with submitting a false affidavit to search Taylor’s home prior to the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department raid, and after working together to create a “false cover-up story in an attempt to escape responsibility for their roles in preparing the warrant affidavit that contained false information,” according to court documents.
Former Detective Brett Hankison is alleged to have “intentionally used unconstitutionally excessive force… when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door.” He is accused of depriving Taylor and a guest in his home “of their constitutional rights by shooting through a bedroom window that was covered with blinds and a blackout curtain,” the US Justice Department said.
The 46-year-old also faces charges of depriving three of Taylor’s neighbors of their constitutional rights, as the indictment alleges the bullets he fired went through a wall in Taylor’s home and into an adjacent apartment.
Jaynes and Meany are accused of willfully depriving Taylor of her constitutional rights by knowingly drafting and approving a false affidavit to obtain a search warrant that “the affidavit contained false and misleading statements, omitted material facts, was based on outdated information and was not supported by probable cause,” according to the Justice Department statement. Both men “knew that the execution of the search warrant would be carried out by armed officers of the police department, and that it could create a dangerous situation both for those officers and for anyone found in Taylor’s home,” the report says. release.
Goodlett conspired with Jaynes and Meany to “falsify the search warrant for Taylor’s home and to subsequently cover up his actions,” the statement said.
Jaynes and another detective tried to cover up their actions by drafting a false investigation letter and making false statements to investigators, according to the release. Jaynes falsified a report in hopes of preventing a criminal investigation into Taylor’s death; Meany also made false statements, according to the statement.
Goodlett and Jaynes met in a garage weeks after the failed raid and conspired to pass false information to investigators, the attorney general alleged.
“We allege that Ms. Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany and Kelly Goodlett requested a search warrant of Ms. Taylor’s home knowing that officers lacked probable cause for the record,” Garland said.
The affidavit falsely claimed that agents had verified that the target of their drug trafficking investigation had received packages at Taylor’s address, but Jaynes and Goodlett knew that was not true, Garland said.
Jaynes, who appeared on a video call from a detention center wearing shorts and a polo shirt, pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are not asking that he be detained pending trial, but are asking that he be barred from contacting potential witnesses or defendants in the case.
Hankison, who fired 10 shots at Taylor’s home and was acquitted of state willful endangerment charges earlier this year, was charged with two federal counts of disenfranchisement under cover of law. Hankison’s attorney declined to comment. Only Hankison was charged at the state level.
The agents who executed the search warrant did not participate in drafting it and did not know it contained false information, the attorney general said.
“We share, but cannot fully imagine the pain felt by Breonna Taylor’s loved ones and all those affected by the events of March 13, 2020,” Garland said. “Breonna Taylor should be alive today.”
According to the Department of Justice, a conviction on the charge of willful violation of a person’s rights carries a maximum sentence of life in prison when the violation leads to death. An obstruction conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and the conspiracy and false statement charges each carry maximum sentences of five years, according to the department.
Lawyer: “A great step towards justice”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Taylor’s family, celebrated the charges, as well as the “hard fight” carried out by Taylor’s family, attorneys, advocates and community members. In 2020, Crump and his team secured a settlement that paid Taylor’s family $12 million and enacted sweeping police reforms, including the use of social workers to provide support in certain police careers and the requirement of that commanders review and approve search warrants before requesting judicial approval.
“Today has been a huge step toward justice. We are grateful for the diligence and dedication of the FBI and the Department of Justice in investigating what led up to Breonna’s murder and what happened afterward. The justice that Breonna received today would not have been possible without the efforts of Attorney General Merrick Garland or Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke,” Crump said in a statement. “We hope this plea announcement sends a message to all other officers involved that it is time to stop covering up and accept responsibility for their role in causing the death of an innocent and beautiful young black woman.”
Clarke said in a statement: “Since the founding of our nation, the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights has guaranteed that all people have the right to be safe in their homes, free from false warrants, unreasonable searches, and the use of of unjustifiable and excessive force by police. These allegations reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans.”
In January 2021, the Police Department fired Jaynes and his colleague Myles Cosgrove. Cosgrove was fired for his use of deadly force in firing 16 shots into Taylor’s home and failing to activate his body camera, according to a copy of his termination letter.
Jaynes was fired for “failure to fill out the Search Operations Plan form” and for failing to verify that Taylor’s previous boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, had been receiving packages at Taylor’s home, according to the termination letter.
Following his firing, Jaynes’s attorney, Thomas Clay, said the move was not unexpected and vowed to fight to get his client reinstated.
“Our position is that he did nothing wrong in any of the activities related to this record,” Clay told CNN in January 2021.
Cosgrove fired the shot that killed Taylor, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said, adding that the shot was justified because Taylor’s boyfriend shot the officers first. Kenneth Walker II, Taylor’s boyfriend, has said repeatedly that he thought the officers were trespassers and fired a shot when they broke down the door.
Lonita Baker, Crump’s co-counsel, pointed to Cameron after Garland’s announcement Thursday, saying the attorney general “has no right to hold any political office” on behalf of Kentucky.
“The federal government had the guts to do what Daniel Cameron didn’t do,” he said.
A review board upheld Cosgrove’s firing last year, and Jaynes lost a similar appeal to the board in June. according to WDRB, CNN affiliate.
The Louisville police union said at the time the firings were “unjustified.”
“There is certainly no evidence in this case that LMPD policies and procedures were violated to the point of warranting termination,” the River City Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement. “Interim Chief (Yvette) Gentry not only made the wrong decision, but she also sent a threatening message to every sworn officer in the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was shot to death in her apartment during an illegal forced entry raid in the early hours of March 13, 2020. Her death, along with those of other Black people at the hands of law enforcement , including George Floyd in Minnesota and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, sparked a summer of protests calling for police reform.
No officers who participated in the raid have been charged in Taylor’s murder.
State prosecutors only charged Hankison in connection with the shooting. The LMPD fired Hankison in June 2020, and in September 2020, a grand jury indicted Hankison on three counts of felony willful endangerment for blindly firing 10 shots at Taylor’s home.
A jury acquitted Hankison of all charges in March.
— CNN’s Amir Vera and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.