DOJ Charges Cops In Killing Of Breonna Taylor

The US Department of Justice is prosecuting four current and former Louisville, Kentucky, cops who participated in a bogus 2020 drug raid that led to the killing of Breonna Taylor, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced yesterday. The four were charged with civil rights violations and other charges, Garland said at a press conference where he said they had “violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”

Weirdly, the New York Times points out, neither of the two cops who actually shot and killed Taylor were named in the new indictments, and they haven’t faced any criminal charges at all, although both were fired by the Louisville police department. America! What a country!

The charges instead name three officers who were part of an investigative unit that obtained the search warrant for the raid, along with a fourth officer who was later fired from the department because, officials said, he had fired blindly into Ms. Taylor’s apartment and struck a neighboring apartment.

That former officer, Brett Hankison, already faced state criminal charges in the case — the only charges filed over the raid until Thursday — but was acquitted. The new indictment accuses him of federal civil rights violations.

The bulk of the charges in the latest indictment surround the search warrant that police officers had sought in an investigation of Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend, whom they had believed to be selling drugs.

Prosecutors accused former detective Joshua Jaynes and still-serving detective Kelly Goodlett of falsely telling a judge they had evidence that the former boyfriend had been receiving suspicious packages at Taylor’s apartment, although the cops had no evidence of the sort. The indictment also accuses Sgt. Kyle Meany of approving the affidavit even though he knew it was false.

The indictment accuses two of the officers not only of including false information in the affidavit, but conspiring to lie about it afterward. Two months after Ms. Taylor’s death, prosecutors said, Mr. Jaynes and Ms. Goodlett met in Mr. Jaynes’s garage and decided to tell investigators, falsely, that a sergeant had informed them that packages were being sent to Ms. Taylor’s apartment.

Also charged was former detective Brett Hankison, who isn’t accused of participating in the shady warrant, but went along on the raid and shot up Taylor’s apartment and others. As CNN explains, Hankison is accused of having

“willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force … when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door.” He is charged with depriving Taylor and a guest in her home “of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a bedroom window that was covered with blinds and a blackout curtain,” the US Department of Justice said.

The 46-year-old also faces charges of depriving three of Taylor’s neighbors of their constitutional rights as, according to the indictment, the bullets he fired traveled through a wall in Taylor’s home and into an adjacent apartment.

None of the shots fired by Hankison hit anyone, but nobody’s giving him any credit for saving lives by hyperactively spraying bullets all over. Hankison, Vice points out, was fired by the police department in the summer of 2020 for “extreme indifference to the value of human life” in the raid. He was also charged in state court with three counts of “wanton endangerment” for the stray rounds, but was acquitted this year.

The department also shitcanned the two officers who actually shot Taylor, Joshua Jaynes and Myles Cosgrove. Jaynes was fired for his inclusion of false information in the affidavit and for “failing to complete a Search Warrant Operations Plan form.” Cosgrove was terminated for using deadly force when he fired 16 rounds into the apartment, and for failing to activate his body camera.

In a surprise to absolutely no one, CNN notes that the firings were protested by the Louisville police union, because the cops were simply doing their job and keeping the public safe from a sleeping EMT and her boyfriend, who fired on the cops thinking they were home invaders. A review board upheld both firings.

In addition to the charges against the cops involved in the raid that killed Taylor, the DOJ is conducting a separate, ongoing investigation into the Louisville Metro Police and the county government to determine “whether officers regularly use unreasonable force and whether officers who break the department’s rules are held accountable.”

In days to come, expect Republicans to explain that if cops who kill people in trumped up raids are held accountable, the nation’s police will lose their school spirit and will have no choice but to stop protecting us at all, so we’d better accept occasional shootings of sleeping Black people for the good of everyone’s safety, the end.

[Vice / CNN / NYT]

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