Four police officers have been charged in Breonna Taylor's death, despite their initial belief that they had escaped punishment.
On September 23, 2020, police were put on high alert, streets in downtown Louisville were closed, and government buildings were boarded up as charges were brought against former officer Brett Hankison for his part in the raid that killed Breonna Taylor.
As a result, the subsequent uproar was well-deserved. Instead, this gun-happy cowboy officer was charged with "first-degree reckless endangerment" because he fired like a madman during the raid, sending bullets paid for by taxpayers into nearby homes.
Hankison was found not guilty on three counts of reckless endangerment in March. This led to a new wave of protests.
Then, this month, retired officer Hankison had all references to these charges expunged from the public record, as if he had never shot indiscriminately into the home of Breonna Taylor. This was a severe blow to the family.
This week, however, the FBI stormed the scene and detained a number of the participating policemen. The FBI has charged four Louisville Metro Police Department officers in connection with Taylor's murder.
On Thursday, the federal government arrested former LMPD officers Joshua Jaynes, Brett Hankison, and Kelly Hanna Goodlett, as well as current LMPD sergeant Kyle Meany.
LMPD launched termination procedures against Meany and Goodlett on Thursday, stating in a statement after the DOJ's decision.
The department said in a statement, "We must send any concerns about this federal investigation to the FBI, but any illegal or improper behaviour by law enforcement must be dealt with thoroughly if we want to keep working to build trust between the police and the community."
As reported by the Courier-Journal:
One of the new charges that the DOJ released on Thursday has to do with the lies Haynes, Meany, and Goodlett told to get a warrant to search Taylor's house.
In a separate indictment, Hankison is charged with using "unconstitutionally excessive force during the raid on Ms. Taylor's home" because he fired 10 shots into an occupied, neighbouring apartment "without a lawful objective justifying the use of deadly force," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division announced at a news conference alongside Garland on Thursday morning in Washington, D.C.
As part of its investigation, the DOJ has also looked closely at the LMPD's rules and training, as well as its system for overseeing officers and holding them accountable, as well as its investigations of wrongdoing.
Despite Taylor being absolutely innocent and being slain while unarmed in her own home, and despite her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker being deemed justifiable in firing at the cops during the raid, not a single officer was held accountable for her killing for two years, until now.
As we reported at the time, Hankison and other cops shot more than twenty bullets at Taylor and her boyfriend during a failed narcotics raid that night.
Breonna's boyfriend, who was first accused of murder, said that Taylor did not pass away after being shot. Instead, she battled to regain her breath, desperately needing the assistance that the cops refused to provide despite Walker's pleading.
"(Police are) hollering, 'Come out!' while I'm on the phone with her" (mom). As reported by USA Today, Walker said in a taped police interview three hours after the shooting, "I'm still hollering 'help' because she's coughing over here, and I'm just freaking out."
The dispatch records suggest that no attempt was made to save Breonna's life that night, and she lay in her hallway for nearly 20 minutes after being fatally shot.
"Multiple rounds of gunfire hit Breonna, who was unarmed and in her hallway." In a new complaint filed on behalf of Taylor's family, lawyers Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker noted, "She was not murdered instantly." She survived for an additional five to six minutes before dying of her injuries on the floor of her residence.
Officers used their resources to place a tourniquet on Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly's leg after he was shot by Walker, who mistook him for an intruder. Instead of assisting the EMT who had just been pierced, they tended to Sgt. Mattingly.
Given that the department declined to investigate or prosecute the officers implicated in Taylor's death, it is probable that these officers believed they had gotten away with it. Not any longer.