Justice Department Informs City of Lexington and Lexington Police Department That Automatically Jailing People for Unpaid Fines Violates Constitution
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
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.
Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home, as usual, on the morning of March 13, 2020. Tragically, she did not. She was just 26 years old. As Attorney General Garland just stated, today’s indictments allege that Louisville Police Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany drafted and approved what they knew was a false affidavit to support a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home. That false affidavit set in motion events that led to Ms. Taylor’s death when other LMPD officers executed that warrant.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution ensures that people are subject to searches only when there is probable cause supporting a search warrant. Falsified warrants create unnecessary hazards for the public and for the police, who rely on facts that fellow officers report in carrying out their public duties.
As the Attorney General described, the indictment alleges that by preparing a false affidavit to secure a search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s home, defendants Jaynes and Meany willfully deprived Ms. Taylor of her constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and we allege that Ms. Taylor’s death resulted from that violation.
In a separate indictment, the grand jury charges former LMPD Detective Brett Hankinson with using unconstitutionally excessive force during the raid on Ms. Taylor’s home. Without a lawful objective justifying the use of deadly force, defendant Hankinson traveled away from Ms. Taylor’s doorway to the side of the building and fired 10 shots into Ms. Taylor’s apartment through a bedroom window and a sliding glass door that were both covered with blinds and curtains.
Community safety dictates that police officers use their weapons only when necessary to defend their own lives or the lives of others, and even then, that they must do so with great care and caution. Today’s indictment alleges that Hankinson’s use of excessive force violated the rights of Ms. Taylor and her guest, and also of her neighbors, whose lives were endangered by bullets that penetrated into their apartment.
Attorney General Garland often underscores, that at the Justice Department, we are to follow the facts and law. Today, after a full and comprehensive investigation, the facts and law have brought us here, to these indictments.
I want to commend our team who spent hundreds of hours gathering the facts regarding this tragedy. No stone was left unturned. These indictments reflect the department’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and to protecting the constitutional rights of every American.
Independent from these criminal charges, a separate team from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is conducting a civil investigation into whether the LMPD is engaging in a pattern or practice of law enforcement misconduct. We’re looking at whether the LMPD uses excessive force or improper searches. That ongoing investigation is separate from today’s charges.
In closing, I extend condolences to Breonna Taylor’s family and loved ones. Today, we acknowledge the loss of her life, recognize her dignity, and recommit ourselves to the pursuit of justice.