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DOJ Charges 4 Officers in Breonna Taylor Case 2 Years After Deadly Raid

The Department of Justice on Thursday charged four current and former police officers with violating the civil rights of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who they shot to death in March 2020 during a drug raid at her home, although they later found no illegal drugs on the premises.

Attorney General Merrick Garland at a press conference announced the indictments of employees and ex-employees of the police department in Louisville, Kentucky.

“The federal charges announced today allege that members of a Police Investigations Unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor’s home and that this act violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” said Garland at the press conference.

The Department of Justice accused Joshua Jaynes, Kelly Goodlett and Sgt. Kyle Meany of violating the 26-year-old Taylor’s civil rights by using a sworn statement they knew was false to obtain a search warrant to raid her home for drugs, an operation during which they and another officer fired into the apartment a total of 32 times, striking her six times and killing her.

“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,” Garland said.

The raid was conducted within the framework of an anti-drug operation, where police requested several warrants to raid several different homes.

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In the case of Taylor’s residence, Garland explained that the accused falsely stated that certain packages had been delivered there that were linked to a drug trafficking network.

Once the raid was under way, the officers broke into Taylor’s home, where the medical worker was with her boyfriend, who was in “legal possession” of a firearm and thought that the police were home invaders who were intending to rob them and opened fire on them, striking one of the officers, whereupon the police returned fire, the AG said.

Two of the officers fired 22 shots into the apartment, Garland said, and one of those rounds struck Taylor in the chest, killing her.

The fourth officer charged in the case is Brett Hankison, who, Garland said, allegedly withdrew from the apartment but then blindly fired 10 more shots into a window and sliding glass door that were covered by blinds, using “unconstitutional excessive force.”

Last March, Hankinson was found not guilty by a Louisville jury after having pleaded not guilty to several charges, including putting the lives of Taylor’s neighbors at risk when he fired his regulation weapon blindly during the raid. One of those shots narrowly missed striking a man in a neighboring apartment.

“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 13, 2020. Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Garland said.

Taylor’s death came a few months before the murder of African American George Floyd in May 2020, which sparked the biggest wave of racial protests and disturbances in the US since the 1970s.

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