The FBI has arrested the former Louisville Metro Police detective who was fired for lying on the search warrant that led to the deadly 2020 raid at Breonna Taylor’s apartment as well three others, including the only officer to face state charges in connection with Taylor’s fatal shooting.
Joshua Jaynes was taken into custody Thursday morning by the FBI and booked in the Oldham County Detention Center, according to attorney Thomas Clay, who is representing Jaynes.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Jaynes, ex-officer Brett Hankison, Sgt. Kyle Meany and Officer Kelly Hanna Goodlett are the four defendants facing new federal charges in connection with the investigation that led to the March 13, 2020 death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman and emergency room technician whose name was a rallying cry for protesters around the country during 2020 demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism.
LMPD said in a statement after the DOJ’s announcement that Chief Erika Shields began termination proceedings Thursday against Meany and Goodlett.
“While we must refer all questions about this federal investigation to the FBI, it is critical that any illegal or inappropriate actions by law enforcement be addressed comprehensively in order to continue our efforts to build police-community trust,” the department said in a statement.
One of the new indictments that the DOJ announced Thursday relates to the untruthful actions Haynes, Meany and Goodlett took in obtaining the warrant to search Taylor’s apartment.
In a separate indictment, Hankison is charged with using “unconstitutionally excessive force during the raid on Ms. Taylor’s home” due to firing 10 shots that went into an occupied, neighboring apartment “without a lawful objective justifying the use of deadly force,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division announced during a Thursday morning news conference alongside Garland in Washington, D.C.
Hankison was acquitted by a Jefferson County jury earlier this year on the state charges of wanton endangerment that related to the shots fired into the apartment, which came close to but did not injure any of Taylor’s neighbors.
It was not immediately clear if all of the officers, apart from Jaynes, had attorneys to comment on their behalf. An attorney who represented Hankison during his state case, Stew Mathews, said he was not yet sure if he would represent Hankison in the new federal case. There is no bond in the federal system, with court dates not yet available in online records.
“Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Garland said during the news conference at the Department of Justice headquarters.
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Nationally-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented Taylor’s family along with local attorneys Lonita Baker and Sam Aguiar, said after Thursday’s announcement it was “a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor.”
“Thank God Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not get the last word in the death of Breonna Taylor,” Crump added during a news conference at Jefferson Square Park, the hub of protests in 2020 over Taylor’s killing.
Cameron, Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, drew the ire of protesters and Taylor’s family in 2020 after he announced that only Hankison and no other LMPD personnel would face state charges related to the case.
“Today was a huge step toward justice,” Crump, Baker and Aguiar said in a joint statement. “We are grateful for the diligence and dedication of the FBI and the DOJ as they investigated what led to Breonna’s murder and what transpired afterwards. The justice that Breonna received today would not have been possible without the efforts of Attorney General Merrick Garland or Assistant AG for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke.
“We hope this announcement of a guilty plea sends a message to all other involved officers that it is time to stop covering up and time to accept responsibility for their roles in causing the death of an innocent, beautiful young Black woman.”
During the Thursday announcement, Garland said the federal charges focus on the conduct of LMPD’s Place-Based Investigations Unit, which lawyers for Taylor’s family labeled in a 2020 lawsuit as a “rogue” group that targeted people and drugs in Louisville’s West End.
PBI Unit issued five search warrants related to suspected drug trafficking in 2020, four of which were served at properties in the West End and one at Taylor’s apartment that was roughly 10 miles away from the others on Springfield Drive in the South End.
Jaynes, Meany and Goodlett were involved in the warrant for Taylor’s home, the DOJ officials said.
Garland said the DOJ alleges the members of the PBI Unit “falsified the affidavit to used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor’s home,” which violated federal civil rights law and “resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”
Jaynes, Meany and Goodlett sought the warrant for Taylor’s home “knowing that the officers lacked probable cause for the search,” Garland said, and they knew the affidavit in support of the warrant “contained false and misleading information and that it omitted material information.”
Garland then outlined several details that had previously surfaced when Jaynes was fired last year, namely that in the affidavit, which he swore to before a judge, Jaynes wrote he’d verified through a U.S. Postal Inspector that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a suspected drug trafficker, was having packages delivered to her apartment.
But Jaynes had actually spoken to another officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who had gotten information from Shively Police, not the postal inspector. According to those Shively officers, postal inspectors said there were no packages. Police found no drugs or cash in Taylor’s apartment after the fatal shooting.
New allegations that Garland shared Thursday include that Jaynes and Goodlett met in a garage in May 2020 and “conspired to knowingly falsify an investigative document” and “conspired to mislead federal, state and local authorities” who were investigating the shooting.
Mattingly was shot during the raid by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who legally owned his firearm and said he thought intruders were breaking into the apartment.
Two other police officers who fired their weapons during the raid — Myles Cosgrove, who fired the shot that killed Taylor, and Hankison — were also previously terminated by LMPD for their actions, while Mattingly was cleared but resigned from the department.
“The officers who ultimately carried out the search at this Taylor’s department were not involved in the drafting of the warrant, and were unaware of the false and misleading statements they contained,” Garland noted Thursday.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement Thursday the indictments “are a critical step forward in the process toward achieving justice for Breonna Taylor.”
“My thoughts are with Ms. Tamika Palmer, Breonna’s mother, and all those who loved and cared for Breonna,” Fischer said. “While we cannot reverse her tragic death, we can and must continue to pursue justice for her. I deeply appreciate the hard work of the federal government to tirelessly pursue this case. And, while I know some may feel that this process has taken too long, as I have said from the beginning there can be no shortcuts to due process, no shortcuts to justice.”
“Today is an important day in that process and in the journey toward justice,” Fischer, a Democrat, added. “And, I pledge to my city that my administration will continue to be unflagging in our work to pursue this justice, and create a more equitable, safe and compassionate city for all Louisvillians.”
Earlier this year, a jury found Hankison not guilty of wanton endangerment charges that related to bullets he fired into an occupied, neighboring apartment during the raid at Taylor’s apartment. He was the only officer charged at the state level in connection with the case.
The FBI has been investigating Taylor’s death since May 2020, when it opened its “color of law” case that focuses on allegations of police officers or other officials improperly using their authority, including excessive force, false arrest or obstruction of justice.
Last year, the DOJ also opened a “patterns and practices” investigation into LMPD and Louisville Metro Government. Thursday’s announced charges against the four defendants are separate from the ongoing “patterns and practices” probe, according to the DOJ.
Garland said last year the probe would focus on several areas, including whether the department:
- Used unreasonable force, including during peaceful protests;
- Engaged in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, including unlawful search warrant executions on private residences;
- Discriminated against people based on race; and
- Failed to provide public services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The DOJ, as part of its probe, also has been completing a comprehensive review of LMPD’s policies and training, along with an assessment of the effectiveness of its supervision of officers and its system of accountability, including its misconduct investigations.
This story has been updated.
Reach Billy Kobin at firstname.lastname@example.org