Four Officers Were Charged More Than Two Years After Breonna Taylor Was Killed In A Botched "No-Knock" Police Raid

In the two years since Breonna Taylor was killed, not one Louisville police officer had been charged in her death until Thursday.

Four current and former Louisville police officers have been charged with federal crimes in Breonna Taylor's killing, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday.

Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, Kelly Goodlett, and Brett Hankison have been charged with civil rights and obstruction offenses, unlawful conspiracies, and unconstitutional use of force.

The Department of Justice alleges that Jaynes, Meany, and Goodlett knowingly falsified the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for Taylor's home. They also covered up their unlawful conduct after Taylor was killed and lied to authorities, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also allege that Hankison, a former Louisville police detective, used excessive force during the raid on Taylor's home, violating her rights and that of her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, as well as her neighbors.

"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 13, 2020," Garland said at a news conference. "Breonna Taylor should be alive today."

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was killed on March 13, 2020, by Louisville police executing a "no-knock" warrant in a narcotics raid. She and Walker were awoken by the pounding on the door, and Walker said that he thought it was an attempted break-in. He shot once into the darkness when police broke down the door, before officers opened fire, shooting Taylor at least eight times.

The warrant was related to Taylor's ex-boyfriend, and her family has maintained that she had no involvement in the alleged drug dealing. No drugs were found in her apartment.

In the first indictment announced Thursday, federal prosecutors accused Jaynes and Meany of drafting and approving a false affidavit to obtain a search warrant for Taylor’s home, knowing that they lacked probable cause. They allegedly knew the affidavit falsely claimed that a drug trafficking operation received packages at Taylor’s address when that was not true.

"We allege that the defendants knew their actions and falsifying the affidavit could create a dangerous situation," Garland said. "And we allege these unlawful acts resulted in Ms. Taylor's death."

After Taylor was killed, Jaynes and Goodlett met in a garage and agreed to tell investigators a fake story, prosecutors said. Meany also allegedly lied to the FBI in the federal investigation.

Jaynes faces one count of depriving Taylor of her constitutional rights over the allegedly false search warrant, one count of conspiracy, and one count of falsifying a report with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the investigation. He was arrested by the FBI on Thursday morning.

Meany was also charged with depriving Taylor of her constitutional rights and making false statements to investigators.

Goodlett was charged with conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the search warrant and to cover up their actions after Taylor's death.

The second indictment alleges that Hankison, one of several officers who executed the warrant, willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force when, after Taylor had been shot, he moved from the door to the side of her apartment and fired 10 more shots through a window and a sliding glass door. He faces two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Taylor's death, along with George Floyd's murder, sparked national protests against police violence and institutional racism.

But in the two years since she was killed, not one Louisville police officer had been charged in her death until the federal charges were announced Thursday. Instead, Hankinson was taken to trial for shooting into a neighboring apartment when he fired his weapon inside Taylor's home. A jury found him not guilty of wanton endangerment in March 2022.