Friday, August 12, 2022

The Justice Department has taken a step in the police murder of Breonna Taylor

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More than two years after Breonna Taylor’s death, the police officers involved in the search for the arrest warrant that led to her murder have finally been charged — by the Federal Justice Department.

In an unexpected announcement on Thursdaythe department has charged four current and former officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department with federal crimes related to the police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Police officers shot and killed the 26-year-old black woman at her home on March 13, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky, while executing a search warrant related to a drug investigation. Taylor was asleep when the officers stormed into her apartment that night with a “no-knock warrant” and fired 32 shots.

The police killing sparked national protests that have lasted for more than two years. Kentucky prosecutors have not charged any of the police officers with Taylor’s death. An officer was charged with willful threat of shooting at a neighboring apartment, but in March a jury found him not guilty. The city settled a $12 million lawsuit with Taylor’s family in 2020, and in 2021 the Justice Department launched an investigation into allegations of systematic misconduct on the part of the Louisville Police Department.

Now, the Justice Department alleges that members of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Place-Based Investigations Unit, which police say was established to reduce violence in a high-crime area, but was investigated for an alleged “rogue police unit‘, falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant from Taylor’s home. To get the search warrant, the officers made false statements, omitted facts and relied on outdated information, the department said. Then, prosecutors say, after Taylor was killed, they conspired to cover up their actions.

During a news conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland said this act violated federal civil rights laws. “Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Garland said.

The first charge Accuses former Detective Joshua Jaynes and current Sergeant Kyle Meany of federal civil rights and obstructionist offenses for preparing and approving a false affidavit of search warrant.

The second charge accuses former Detective Brett Hankison of civil rights violations for firing his service weapon into Taylor’s home through a covered window and covered glass door. The department also charges the current detective Kelly Goodlett conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the search warrant and cover up their actions afterward.

Social justice activists called the announcement a victory, though many acknowledged that the criminal charges could never undo the harm done. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, wrote“They said it couldn’t and wouldn’t be done, but they didn’t know I could and wouldn’t stand for 874 days,” and noted the number of days that have passed since Taylor’s death.

Since police are rarely prosecuted for shooting civilians while on the job, the Justice Department’s decision to charge the officers is unusual. Here’s what the decision could mean for Breonna Taylor’s fight for justice, and for the four current and former officers.

What do the costs mean?

On March 13, the Louisville Police Department had a warrant to enter and search Taylor’s home because they believed a suspect in their drug investigation was receiving packages at Taylor’s home. But the man they sought Jamarcus Glover – a man Taylor dated years ago but had no friendship with – did not live in Taylor’s apartment and was held elsewhere.

The Justice Department claims that the search warrant was invalid. Jaynes and Meany deliberately stripped Taylor of her constitutional rights when they prepared and approved a false affidavit to obtain a search warrant for Taylor’s home, the department said.

The indictment alleges that both men knew the affidavit “contained false and misleading statements, omitted material facts, relied on outdated information and was not supported by probable cause,” the indictment said. the DOJ . statement. It also claims that because Jaynes and Meany knew the search warrant would be executed by armed officers, they also knew it could create a deadly situation for the officers and anyone in Taylor’s home.

On March 12, 2020, officers from the Place-Based Investigations Unit requested five search warrants they believe were related to suspected drug trafficking in the West End area of ​​Louisville. Four of the search warrants were for that neighborhood, but the fifth was for Taylor’s house, 10 miles from the West End, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The indictment goes on to allege that the affidavit falsely claimed that the officers verified their target in the alleged drug trafficking operation, Glover, had received a package at Taylor’s apartment.

The first indictment also charges Jaynes with conspiracy to cover up the false affidavit after Taylor’s death and making false statements to investigators. Jaynes allegedly teamed up with Goodlett to do this, who the Justice Department has also charged with conspiracy. The department claims that the two officers met in a garage in May 2020 and agreed to tell the investigators a false story.

And when the warrant was issued, the situation became deadly.

According to the Justice Department, the officers conducting the search were unaware of the false and misleading statements used to obtain the warrant. When they arrived at Taylor’s apartment that evening, they broke into the door. Taylor was at home with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who owned a gun. To believe an intruder entered the apartment, he fired a shot and hit the first officer at the door. Two officers — Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove then immediately fired a total of 22 rounds at the apartments, one of which struck Taylor in the chest, killing her.

The Justice Department has filed charges against only one of the officers — Hankison — who fired that night. The two civil rights charges against Hankison The second indictment says he used “unconstitutional excessive force” when he fired his gun at Taylor’s apartment.

He fired 10 more shots after Taylor had already been shot. His bullets traveled through Taylor’s apartment and through the wall to her neighbor’s apartment. Hankison’s actions “involved in an attempted murder,” the department claims.

Why all cops walked free before

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the special counsel who led the state’s investigation into the police shooting, advised the grand jury only on charges of wanton threat to Hankison, one of three officers who fired shots at Taylor’s apartment. .

As I wrote in 2020, “that one charge was the only one for jurors to consider” and it was about endangering the neighbors, not Taylor or her boyfriend. Jurors were not asked to consider whether any of the officers had committed murder or manslaughter in relation to Taylor. While the grand jury indicted Hankison on the charges of willful threat in September 2020, a jury found him not guilty of all three counts.

The Justice Department’s new indictment of Hankison alleged excessive use of force involving Taylor and her boyfriend, which was not included in the Kentucky case. The Ministry of Justice has already civil investigation in the Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department, which Garland announced in April 2021, to investigate allegations of systemic police misconduct.

Taylor’s name became and continues to be a rallying cry for racial justice efforts around the world. The murder also renewed attention for the #SayHerName movement, which aims to draw attention to the many black women who are murdered by the police, but usually ignored in the fight for justice.

The $12 Million Settlement Between Louisville and Taylor’s Family including a series of police reformssuch as sending social workers to assist the police and encouraging police officers to live in the communities where they patrol. In the aftermath of the murder, the Louisville Metro Council also voted unanimously for approval.”Breonna’s Law”, which prohibits the use of no-knock warrants.

The civil rights charges carry a maximum jail term of life if the violation results in attempted killing or death. The obstruction counts carry a maximum sentence of 20 years, and the conspiracy counts and false statements carry a maximum sentence of five years.


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