Remarks as Delivered
Good morning everyone. Earlier today, I spoke with the family of Breonna Taylor. This morning, they were informed that the Justice Department has charged four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department officers with federal crimes related to Ms. Taylor's death.
Those alleged crimes include civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force, and obstruction offenses.
The four defendants were charged through two separate indictments and one information.
I am going to begin today by discussing the civil rights offenses that stem from the falsification of a search warrant. We allege that these offenses resulted in Ms. Taylor's death.
These charges focus on the conduct of the Louisville Metro Police Department's Place-Based Investigations Unit.
In the first indictment filed today, we allege that in early 2020, that unit was investigating suspected drug trafficking in the West End [area] of Louisville.
On March 12, 2020, officers from that unit sought 5 search warrants they claimed were related to the suspected drug trafficking. Four of those warrants targeted properties in the West End where that activity was allegedly occurring.
A fifth search warrant was for Breonna Taylor's home, which was approximately 10 miles away from the West End.
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.
Specifically, we allege that Ms. Taylor's Fourth Amendment rights were violated when defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, and Kelly Goodlett sought a warrant to search Ms. Taylor's home knowing that the officers lacked probable cause for the search.
We allege that the defendants knew the affidavit in support of that warrant contained false and misleading information and that it omitted material information.
Among other things, the affidavit falsely claimed that officers had verified that the target of the alleged drug trafficking operation had received packages at Ms. Taylor's address. In fact, Defendants Jaynes and Goodlett knew that was not true.
We further allege that Defendants Jaynes and Meany knew the search warrant would be carried out by armed LMPD officers, and that conducting that search could create a dangerous situation for anyone who happened to be in Ms. Taylor's home.
As outlined in the charging documents, the officers who ultimately carried out the search at Ms. Taylor's apartment were not involved in the drafting of the warrant and were unaware of the false and misleading statements it contained.
When those officers executed the search warrant, Ms. Taylor was at home with another person who was in lawful possession of a handgun.
When officers broke down the door to Ms. Taylor's apartment, that person -- believing that intruders were breaking in -- immediately fired one shot, hitting the first officer at the door.
Two officers immediately fired a total of 22 shots into the apartment. One of those shots hit Ms. Taylor in the chest and killed her.
We allege that the defendants knew their actions in falsifying the affidavit could create a dangerous situation. And we allege these unlawful acts resulted in Ms. Taylor's death.
The charges announced today also allege that the officers responsible for falsifying the affidavit that led to the search took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct after Ms. Taylor was killed.
We allege that Defendants Jaynes and Goodlett conspired to knowingly falsify an investigative document that was created after Ms. Taylor's death.
We also allege that they conspired to mislead federal, state, and local authorities who were investigating the incident. For example, we allege that in May 2020, those two defendants met in a garage where they agreed to tell investigators a false story.
The indictment separately alleges that Defendant Meany lied to the FBI during its investigation of this matter.
Another indictment filed today alleges that after Ms. Taylor was shot, another LMPD officer, Defendant Brett Hankison, moved from the doorway to the side of her apartment and fired 10 more shots through a window and a sliding glass door, both of which were covered with blinds and curtains.
Defendant Hankison has been charged with two civil rights offenses alleging that he willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force while acting in his official capacity as an officer.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke will speak more about that aspect of the case.
As in any case, the charges we announce today are allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Before I close, I want to thank Assistant Attorney General Clarke, her team in the Civil Rights Division, and the case agents at the FBI for their tireless work on this case.
We share, but we cannot fully imagine, the grief felt by Breonna Taylor's loved ones and all of those affected by the events of March 13th, 2020.
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.