DOJ brings charges in Breonna Taylor case
(News4usonline) — Justice may finally come for Breonna Taylor. More than two years after she was slain by Louisville, Kentucky police officers while she slept in her apartment with her boyfriend, Taylor is just now receiving the benefits of having her civil rights as an American citizen violated. The Department of Justice (DOJ) arrested and charged four former and current police officers for violating Taylor’s civil rights in an announcement made on Aug. 4.
“The Justice Department has charged four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department officers with federal crimes related to Breonna Taylor’s death,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. The Justice Department is committed to defending and protecting the civil rights of every person in this country. That was this Department’s founding purpose, and it remains our urgent mission.”
PALMETTO, FL — JULY 25: Team members of the Seattle Storm honoring the memory of Breonna Taylor by wearing Taylor’s name on their jerseys on July 25, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Before the outcry of the murder of George Floyd later in the summer of 2020, 26-year-old Taylor was caught in a hailstorm of police fire in her Louisville home that March. It would be months before Taylor’s name became equated nationally around police brutality and the usage of excessive force by law enforcement.
The officers involved in the pre-dawn raid that killed Taylor escaped criminal punishment and didn’t get any jail time. There was one police officer, Brett Hankinson, who was charged with felony wanton endangerment but was acquitted. Hankinson has been charged with offenses in the federal case.
In the way the Department of Justice laid out its charges, it is alleged that Hankinson “willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force, while acting in his official capacity as an officer, when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door. Count One charges him with depriving Taylor and a person staying with Taylor in her apartment of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a bedroom window that was covered with blinds and a blackout curtain.”
Hankinson is also being charged with “depriving three of Taylor’s neighbors of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a sliding glass door that was covered with blinds and a curtain.” The indictment handed down alleges that Hankinson’s conduct equated to an attempt to kill.
Artists: paint a mural of Breonna Taylor in Oakland, California. Artists: The People’s Conservatory, Robin Gibson, Octavio Hernandez Echeverria, Nicole Gervacio, Ebony Morris,@g.theartist510, Luisa, Karma Smart, @x10maralima
Location: Downtown Oakland, California, corner of 15th and Broadway. Photo credit: Astrud Reed
“On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home as usual, but tragically she did not,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “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.”
The other federal offenses being alleged against the other three former and current members of the Louisville Metro Police Department includes preparing and approving a false search warrant and participating in a conspiracy to falsify a search warrant and attempted cover-up.
Detective Joshua Jaynes, a former member of the Louisville Metro Police Department, and current LMPD Sgt. Kyle Meany were both hit with federal civil rights and obstruction charges. Jaynes and Meany allegedly committed the offenses of preparing and approving a false search warrant affidavit that resulted in Taylor’s death, according to the DOJ complaint.
Jaynes and Det. Kelly Goodlett allegedly conspired to falsify the search warrant and get it approved and then tried to cover up their actions. According to the DOJ complaint, Jaynes and another detective tried “to cover up the false warrant affidavit after Taylor’s death by drafting a false investigative letter and making false statements to criminal investigators.”