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Breonna Taylor: DOJ charges 4 Louisville cops with civil right violations

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Today the U.S. Justice Department charged four current and former Louisville, Ky., police officers with civil rights violations. The officers were involved in the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment back in 2020. Taylor's killing helped fuel racial justice protests across the country. Roberto Roldan with member station WFPL in Louisville has more.

ROBERTO ROLDAN, BYLINE: Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the charges at a press conference in Washington, D.C. Garland says Louisville Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany knowingly provided false information when they asked a judge to approve the search warrants for Taylor's home. He says their actions can be directly linked to her death.

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MERRICK GARLAND: Defendants Jaynes and Meany knew the search warrant would be carried out by armed LMPD officers, and that conducting that search could create a dangerous situation for anyone who happened to be in Ms. Taylor's home.

ROLDAN: Officers burst into her apartment, and when Taylor's boyfriend fired once at police, she was shot and killed. Garland says Janes and Meany knew it wasn't true that Taylor's ex-boyfriend, who was a suspected drug dealer, had packages delivered to her home. But they put that information in the search warrant application anyway. Officials also allege that Detective Kelly Goodlett conspired with Jaynes to concoct a cover story after Taylor's death and lied to investigators. In Louisville, Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, gathered with supporters in a downtown park. Standing in front of a dozen cameras, an emotional Palmer remembered how people told her she was crazy for talking about a police cover-up.

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TAMIKA PALMER: Well, we've been saying - and the rest of them back there, well, we've been saying on Day 1, y'all learning what we've been saying was the truth, that they shouldn't have been there and that Breonna didn't deserve that.

ROLDAN: Palmer noted that it's been 874 days since her daughter's death. She was just 26 years old. Palmer criticized Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office first investigated the raid two years ago. None of the officers were directly charged with Taylor's death as a result.

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PALMER: It didn't start with him, but he had the right to do the right thing and he chose not to.

ROLDAN: Cameron, a Republican who's running for governor, has defended his decision, saying officers fired shots into Taylor's apartment in self-defense. Palmer family attorney Ben Crump said today was a historic day, not just for Taylor's family.

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BEN CRUMP: We can say this is a day that Black women saw equal justice in the United States of America. She's looking down from heaven today.

ROLDAN: Two of the Louisville officers had already been fired. The others are in the process of losing their jobs. At least one of them is expected to appear in federal court next week. For NPR News, I'm Roberto Roldan in Louisville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Roberto Roldan