With Federal Charges Announced, Will There Be Justice for Breonna Taylor?

Breonna Taylor may finally get justice. On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced federal charges against four current and former Kentucky police officers in connection with the 2020 murder of Breonna Taylor. The officers are charged with civil rights violations, conspiracy, use of excessive force, and obstruction.

During the press conference, AG Garland said, the officers, lied to obtain the search warrant. The search violated civil rights laws and led to Taylor’s death. In addition, Garland believes the officers conspired to cover up the incident and mislead authorities investigating Taylor’s murder.

“We allege that Ms. Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when defendants Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, and Kelly Goodlett sought a warrant to search Ms. Taylor’s home knowing that the officers lacked probable cause for the search. We allege that the defendants knew the affidavit in support of that warrant contained false and misleading information and that it omitted material information.”

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old medical technician who was killed when police enforced a “no-knock” warrant at her home. Taylor was sleeping when police raided her home while she was with her boyfriend. Taylor’s boyfriend, shot at police believing they were intruders and officers responded by firing 22 bullets, killing Breonna Taylor. The murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and others set off a series of protests in 2020 around the world calling for police reform.

Attorney for the family of Breonna Taylor, Benjamin Crump said in a statement, “Today was a huge step toward justice. 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 afterward. 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.”

Kentucky state prosecutors previously charged officer Brett Hankison with three counts of felony wanton endangerment in connection with Taylor’s murder in September 2020. He was acquitted of all charges in March. No other officer who had a role in the raid that resulted in Breonna Taylor’s death was charged until AG Garland’s announcement.

The National Bar Association (NBA) President, Lonita K. Baker said in a statement, “While these charges and guilty pleas will not bring Breonna back, we hope it sends a message to all that no one is above the law. The NBA thanks Attorney General Garland, Assistant Attorney General Clarke, and their staff for their diligence for pursuing justice in Breonna’s case. Where the Commonwealth failed to act, we appreciate the federal government stepping in to ensure justice is pursued no matter the length of time,”

Marc H. Morial, President, and CEO of the National Urban League said in a statement, “More than two years after Breonna’s death, the officers involved in obtaining the search warrant that led to her murder were charged with a federal crime. As we celebrate this win for her family and the Louisville community, we must acknowledge the work of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice, the FBI, and others who helped with this investigation to ensure the officers involved were held responsible. To the activists on the ground and our Louisville affiliate that mobilized every day in an effort to make the nation aware of Breonna’s story, we thank you as well.”

The family of Breonna Taylor has consistently pleaded and fought for justice pushing her case into the national spotlight and appearing in protests and marches across the county. In 2020 officials in Louisville, KY agreed to a $12 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Breonna Taylor.

“On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home as usual, but tragically she did not,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “Since the founding of our nation, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution has guaranteed that all people have a right to be secure in their homes, free from false warrants, unreasonable searches, and the use of unjustifiable and excessive force by the police. These indictments reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and to protecting the constitutional rights of every American.”

 

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