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Washington — The Justice Department on Thursday filed federal charges against four current and former Louisville police officers linked to 2020 deaths Brenna Taylorshe was shot and killed by police as they raided her apartment while she was sleeping.

The charges against defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, Kelly Goodlett and Brett Hankison include various civil rights violations, conspiracy, use of force and obstruction. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the civil rights charges against the three officers stemmed from allegedly forging affidavits used to obtain a “no-knock” search warrant authorizing an early morning raid on Taylor’s apartment.

“The federal charges announced today allege that members of the Local Investigative Service forged an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home, in violation of federal civil rights law, and that these violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Garland told the Justice Department Say.

Taylor was shot and killed on March 13, 2020, when Louisville Metro Police Department officers stormed the apartment where she was sleeping with her boyfriend, who identified the officers as intruders and shot them as they entered. In response, police fired 22 shots at the apartment, one of which hit Taylor in the chest, killing her.

Prosecutors said in the charging documents that Goodlett and Jaynes, both detectives, provided false and misleading information when applying for a search warrant, specifically that postal inspectors informed Goodlett that the goal of their drug trafficking investigation was Receive packages at Taylor’s address. Prosecutors claimed that was wrong, but the sergeant and their boss, Meaney, approved the warrant application anyway.

Breonna Taylor - Federal Charges
This undated photo shows Breonna Taylor of Louisville, Kentucky.

Photo by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar via The Associated Press

“We allege that the defendants knew that their falsified affidavits could create a dangerous situation, and we allege that these unlawful actions resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Garland said, noting that none of the officers executing the warrants were “involved” in drafting the warrants , and was not aware of the false and misleading statements contained therein. “

The attorney general said Jaynes, Goodlett and Meaney also “took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct following Ms. Taylor’s death” and “conspired to mislead federal, state and local authorities who are investigating this matter.”

Jaynes and Goodlett allegedly met in Jaynes’ garage on the evening of May 17, 2020, following media reports that a postal inspector contradicted information in the search warrant application. The pair devised a plan to tell investigators false stories about the affidavit, according to charging documents. Prosecutors said they all told investigators similar stories, with a postal inspector casually mentioning that the target was picking up packages at Taylor’s address, a claim they knew was false.

Meaney is also accused of lying to investigators about police’s unannounced entry into Taylor’s home. According to the charging documents, Meaney told the FBI that his officers executed a “no-knock” order at the request of the SWAT unit, when in fact he knew the unit had not made such a request.

In a separate indictment, Hankerson was charged with two counts of disenfranchisement after she was killed after firing 10 bullets through the windows and glass doors of Taylor’s apartment.Hankerson is Acquitted He was charged with wanton endangerment of the state in a trial earlier this year.

The charges come more than a year after the Justice Department launched an independent and ongoing civil rights investigation into the patterns and practices of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, a release from the department noted.

“The charges announced today are criminal offenses against individual officials, and the ongoing pattern or practice investigation is a civil investigation that is reviewing allegations of systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by the LMPD and the Louisville Metro,” the department said. “Civil modality or practice investigations are handled independently of criminal cases by different teams of professional staff.”

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