Detective Expected to Plead Guilty Over Warrant in Breonna Taylor Raid
A police detective in Louisville, Ky., is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to mislead a judge in order to obtain a search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s home, a plea that would mark the first conviction of a police officer over the fatal raid more than two years ago.
Federal prosecutors had brought charges against the detective, Kelly Goodlett, and three other officers this month over the nighttime raid in which police officers fatally shot Ms. Taylor, 26, a Black emergency room technician whose death was among several police killings that led to months of protests in 2020.
On Friday, a U.S. magistrate judge set a hearing for Ms. Goodlett to enter a plea on Aug. 22. Ms. Goodlett’s lawyer, Brandon Marshall, told the judge that she would enter a guilty plea at that time, news outlets reported.
The police had been investigating Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend for selling drugs, and another detective, Joshua Jaynes, claimed in a search warrant affidavit that he had verified with a postal inspector that the former boyfriend was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s apartment. Mr. Jaynes later admitted that he had never verified the information with an inspector and was fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Prosecutors said Ms. Goodlett had reviewed a draft of the affidavit and, despite knowing that the claim about the postal inspector was false, did not alter it. They also said she added a misleading line to the affidavit in which she said the former boyfriend had recently been using Ms. Taylor’s address as his own. Then, prosecutors said, as fallout from the raid worsened, Ms. Goodlett lied to investigators about whether Mr. Jaynes had verified the information about the packages.
Ms. Goodlett and Mr. Jaynes were charged in federal court last week along with a third officer, Sgt. Kyle Meany, who led an investigative unit in the Police Department and, according to prosecutors, approved the submission of the false warrant and later lied to the F.B.I.
Federal prosecutors also charged a fourth officer, Brett Hankison, who had fired blindly through a window and door, hitting a neighboring apartment where a family was sleeping but not injuring anyone. Mr. Hankison was acquitted on endangerment charges in state court this year, the only officer to have been prosecuted in the case before the federal charges were filed last week.
Mr. Jaynes, Mr. Meany and Mr. Hankison have all pleaded not guilty. A guilty plea from Ms. Goodlett could signal that she is cooperating with investigators in their case against the other three.
The maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge against Ms. Goodlett is five years in prison, while the charges against the other officers could bring up to a life sentence because prosecutors say their false claims in the warrant affidavit resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.
Neither of the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly, have been charged.
The Police Department moved to fire Ms. Goodlett, who has worked for the department for about a decade, after the Justice Department unsealed the charge against her last week.
Ms. Goodlett was not at the scene of the raid, which took place after midnight on March 13, 2020, nor were any of the other officers involved in securing the search warrant. The warrant contained a “no knock” provision allowing the police to enter without warning.
The police have said they nonetheless knocked and announced themselves during the raid, but Ms. Taylor’s new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was in bed with her when the police arrived, said he had heard only banging at the door. Mr. Walker said that when the police knocked the door open with a battering ram, he believed that intruders were storming the apartment. He fired one shot, striking an officer in the leg, and three officers returned fire, killing Ms. Taylor.
In the affidavit used to secure the warrant, Mr. Jaynes wrote that the police had seen her former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, walking out of her apartment with a package in January, and that they suspected him of selling drugs elsewhere. The police raided several other homes on the night they shot Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Glover later pleaded guilty to selling cocaine and other charges.
At a hearing in front of a police board in Louisville last year, Mr. Jaynes said that while he had not personally verified that the former boyfriend was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s home, he had heard as much from a sergeant and believed that was enough to back up the warrant. Prosecutors said that this claim, too, was false.