A photo of Breonna Taylor was placed at Black Lives Matter Plaza on July 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Frontline Action Hub.
Federal prosecutors in Kentucky have hit four Louisville Metro Police officers with criminal charges in connection with the early-2020 killing of emergency room nurse Breonna Taylor.
“Among other things, the federal charges announced today allege that members of LMPD’s Place-Based Investigations Unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor’s home, that this act violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said at a Thursday, Aug. 4, press conference, shortly after the indictments were unsealed in Louisville. “Breonna Taylor should be alive today.”
Garland’s prosecutors charged ex-detective Joshua Jaynes, 40, and current Sgt. Kyle Meany, 35, with federal civil rights and obstruction of justice crimes for allegedly preparing and approving a fake search warrant affidavit that led to 26-year-old Taylor’s death in a hail of gunfire.
A former detective, Brett Hankison, 46, faces civil rights violations for allegedly firing blindly into Taylor’s apartment through a draped window and covered glass door. Prosecutors said that was an unjustified use of force.
Authorities also accused an ex-detective, Kelly Goodlett, with not only conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the search warrant affidavit, but also with working with him to cover up their crimes.
Myles Cosgrove and Joshua Jaynes, the two detectives fired from LMPD. Photos courtesy of LMPD, composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Attempts to reach the four defendants were unsuccessful. Either their current contact information remains unlisted, or the suspects and their civil attorneys didn’t respond to Coffee or Die Magazine’s requests for comment.
No criminal defense attorneys are listed for the defendants in the federal court docket.
The criminal complaints filed in federal court paint a confusing scene at Taylor’s Springfield Drive apartment shortly before 1 a.m. on March 13, 2020. Prosecutors contend that Louisville’s Place-Based Investigations Unit relied on a bogus warrant when they kicked in the door to Taylor’s residence.
Her boyfriend. Kenneth Walker, believed intruders were breaking in, so he fired one shot with his pistol, which he lawfully possessed.
The round hit the first plainclothes officer through the door.
A protest march on June 26, 2022, in New York featured a sign recalling the death of reonna Taylor. Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP via Getty Images)
A pair of cops unleashed a barrage of 22 bullets, one of which punctured Taylor’s chest, but they missed Walker, according to the indictments.
Authorities accused Hankison of then moving toward a sliding door into the flat to fire 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment.
Those rounds failed to hit anyone but ripped through Taylor’s walls, putting three other lives in an adjoining apartment at risk, prosecutors said.
Neither Taylor nor Walker was a target of the search warrant. The warrant spun out of a probe into narcotics trafficking at a Louisville location 10 miles from her residence, according to the 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. These indictments reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and to protecting the constitutional rights of every American.”
Editor's Note: This is a breaking story and Coffee or Die Magazine will continue to update it.
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Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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