4 officers charged in Breonna Taylor’s death
Like a twisted version of Law and Order, the plot sounds like something off of a TV show. Officers knock down a door executing an illegally obtained search warrant. A woman is inside with her boyfriend when they hear the noise. In the dark, scared and uncertain as to what is going on, the boyfriend fires a single shot that hits an officer. Several officers shot back, hitting the girlfriend several times and killing her.
Unfortunately, the story is true, not a TV show and it describes what happened to Breonna Taylor. Taylor was a Black woman whose fatal shooting contributed to the racial justice protests that rocked the U.S. in the spring and summer of 2020. Finally, her killers are facing justice.
The U.S. Justice Department announced civil rights charges last week against four current and former Louisville police officers over the false and fatal drug raid that led to her death. The federal charges will hold these officers accountable for the killing of the 26-year-old medical worker. The federal charges are against former Officers Joshua Jaynes and Brett Hankison, along with current Officers Kelly Goodlett and Sgt. Kyle Meany. Louisville police said Thursday they are beginning termination procedures for Goodlett and Meany.
In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said “Breonna Taylor should be alive today.” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said she has waited 874 days for police to be held accountable. “Today’s overdue, but it still hurts,” she said Thursday. “You all (are) learning today that we’re not crazy.”
The federal charges range from unlawful conspiracies to the use of force and obstruction of justice. Local activists and members of the Taylor family celebrated the charges and thanked federal officials. “This is a day when Black women saw equal justice in America,” lawyer Benjamin Crump said. Some of Taylor’s family and other supporters gathered in a park downtown Thursday and chanted, “Say her name, Breonna Taylor!”
In the protests of 2020, Taylor’s name was often shouted along with George Floyd. Floyd was killed less than three months after Taylor by a Minneapolis police officer in a videotaped encounter that shocked the nation.
A separate indictment said Jaynes and Meany both knew the warrant used to search Taylor’s home had information that was “false, misleading and out of date.” Both are charged with conspiracy and deprivation of rights. Jaynes and Goodlett allegedly conspired to falsify an investigative document that was written after Taylor’s death, Garland said. Federal officials filed a separate charge against Goodlett, alleging she conspired with Jaynes to falsify Taylor’s warrant affidavit. Garland alleged Jaynes and Goodlett met in May 2020 in a garage “where they agreed to tell investigators a false story.”