Louisville detectives went with their “gut feeling,” and falsified evidence to search Breonna Taylor’s apartment when they couldn’t find proof that it was being used for drug trafficking, according to a plea agreement signed by one of the officers charged by the U.S. Justice Department.
The affidavit from former Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Detective Kelly Goodlett, released Sep. 6, pulls back the curtain on the investigation that led to the botched “no knock” police raid where Taylor was killed in March 2020.
The Justice Department charged Goodlett with conspiracy for allegedly helping to falsify the affidavit for the search warrant that authorized the raid.
Defense attorneys say this kind of alleged wrongdoing—making false statements on documents like affidavits and search warrants—is almost routine among some police officers. Such misconduct “is staggeringly common,” says Joe Margulies, a criminal law professor at Cornell University and former federal defender. “These are casual falsehoods that are calculatedly inserted into an affidavit in support of a warrant application. They are practiced at this.”
LMPD’s Place-Based Investigations Unit (PBI) was investigating Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover for drug crimes, according to federal prosecutors. Goodlett and her then-partner, Detective Joshua Jaynes saw Glover get a package from Taylor’s home on Jan. 16, 2020, according to the affidavit.
Believing the package contained drugs or drug money, they tried to find proof, Goodlett said in her affidavit. “The detectives, knowing that they needed actual evidence, rather than just a gut feeling, to get a warrant, attempted to find evidence supporting this gut belief,” the plea agreement says. They were unable to find any evidence.
Jaynes asked another officer who had contacts in the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to see if Taylor had been receiving suspicious packages but the officer said there was “nothing there,” according to the affidavit.
Goodlett says that Jaynes made the decision to bring a false affidavit requesting a “no knock” search warrant to Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw. The request included a fake authentication from the postal inspector that Glover was getting packages delivered to Taylor, the federal affidavit said.
“Det. Jaynes was the primary drafter of the Springfield Drive warrant affidavit, but Det. Goodlett fact-checked the affidavit and added some information to it,” the plea agreement says.
Goodlett and Jaynes are accused of lying to get the search warrant for Taylor’s home. Former LMPD Sgt. Kyle Meany, Goodlett’s then-boss, and Jaynes are charged with violating Taylor’s civil rights, which carries a maximum of up to life in prison if they are convicted. Meany is accused of lying to federal investigators.
Another former officer, Brett Hankinson, is facing a separate federal charge of violating Taylor’s civil rights for allegedly using excessive force by firing 10 times into Taylor’s apartment, though he did not fire the shot that killed Taylor.
Local media and experts have questioned whether Goodlett is going to testify against her two former colleagues which is highly unusual for cops to do—especially in high-profile cases.
Usually, officers tend to band together and back one another in the face of official or criminal investigations, says Steve Cohen, a former prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
“For so many reasons and for so many years it has always been difficult to obtain the cooperation of a law enforcement officer,” Cohen says. “There is so much pressure on you as a law enforcement officer to stand by your brothers and sisters. The notion of violating that relationship, even to vindicate a broader principle becomes very difficult.”
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