It’s a day many of us thought would never come.
This afternoon, US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Louisville, Kentucky police officers involved in the search warrant that led to the killing of Breonna Taylor will be charged for crimes related to her death.
AG Merrick Garland announces bombshell charges against police officers involved in the search warrant that led to the killing of Breonna Taylor.
He says defendants "took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct" and "met in a garage where they agreed to tell … a false story." pic.twitter.com/nEuvdkbJfl
— The Recount (@therecount) August 4, 2022
“We allege that the defendants knew their actions in falsifying the affidavit could create a dangerous situation, and we allege these unlawful acts resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death,” Garland said at a press conference. “The charges announced today also allege that the officers responsible for falsifying the affidavit that led to the search took steps to cover-up their unlawful conduct after Ms. Taylor was killed.”
Garland continued, “We allege that defendants Jaynes and Goodlett conspired to knowingly falsifying an investigative document that was created after Ms. Taylor’s death. We also allege that they conspired to mislead federal, state, and local authorities who were investigating the incident. For example, we allege that in May 2020 those two defendants met in a garage where they agreed to tell investigators a false story.”
The charges include civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction offenses.
For those who need a refresher on the case, here’s a summary I wrote for The Washington Examiner in 2020, “Taylor was a driven, hard-working, emergency medical technician. She had recently split from an ex-boyfriend, who was under investigation for selling drugs, and reunited with her straight-laced college boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. On March 13, Louisville cops executed a no-knock warrant on her home while she and Walker slept, all in an attempt to find drugs or cash proceeds from their sale.”
“Louisville police say they knocked that evening, and Walker backs that up. But according to him, they never responded to inquiries of who was at the door, and neighbors have confirmed they also heard no response. The police then knocked down the door, upon which Walker fired his legally owned and permitted firearm in self-defense. After that, police opened fire on the home and everyone in it, callously shooting at multiple residents (bullets were also found in a neighbor’s apartment). Taylor was shot eight times and died in her hallway floor. She was 26 years old.”
Problematic details immediately emerged about the case—from Officer Brett Hankison shooting up the building and surrounding area like a drunk octopus, to the style of the no-knock warrant being carried out in the first place, to the fact that cops lied to obtain the warrant that led to the horrific incident in the first place.
But despite all this wrongdoing, few anticipated any real accountability for the police responsible for her death. Which tells you just what a sad, pathetic excuse we have for a “justice” system.
Our system is set up to protect police at all costs. The made-up doctrine of qualified immunity means they cannot be held liable for their actions. Police unions make it expensive and legally terrifying to fire dirty cops. And the culture of the institution abuses whistleblowers and forces conformity, meaning there’s very little self-policing going on.
Charges are not convictions, and they certainly aren’t the broad, structural reform we need when it comes to policing. But they are significant in this case and hopefully an indication that this Justice Department intends to implement at least some semblance of order in its ranks.