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'The fight's not over. We're not done': Breonna Taylor's family reacts to federal charges in her death

Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed in her apartment in Louisville during a botched raid in March 2020.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Four former and current Louisville police officers are facing federal charges in connection with the death of Breonna Taylor.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday afternoon the federal charges include civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction offenses.

The officers charged include former LMPD detectives Joshua Jaynes and Brett Hankison, and current LMPD Sgt. Kyle Meany and detective Kelly Goodlett.

"I've waited 874 days for today. It's here now," Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother, said at a press conference in Louisville. 

Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed in her apartment during a botched raid in March 2020.

Her death sparked protests nationwide and outrage after no officers were charged in her deadly shooting.

"That day changed our lives," said Tawanna Gordon, Breonna Taylor's Cousin who lives in Grand Rapids. "That day took someone very valuable in our family and it's something we're still grieving over." 

LMPD Police Chief Erika Shields says termination procedures for Meany and Goodlett have begun.

Jaynes, who was the lead investigator in the case, was the officer who signed the search warrant that lead to Taylor's death on March 13, 2020.

Garland says the federal charges allege the officers falsified information on the search warrant used to enter Taylor's home, violating her fourth amendment rights which resulted in her death.

He said the officers then took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct after Taylor's death. 

The DOJ says in May 2020, Jaynes and Goodlett met in Jaynes' home garage where they agreed to tell investigators a falsified story. Meany also lied to the FBI during its investigation.

Garland says another indictment filed Thursday alleges after Taylor was shot, Hankison moved from the doorway to the side of her apartment and fired 10 more rounds into a window and sliding glass door, both of which were covered with blinds and curtains.

Hankison has been charged with two federal civil rights violations. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke said community safety requires police officers to use their weapons only when necessary to protect themselves or others. "Even then," she said. "They must do so with great care and caution."

He had previously been charged with wanton endangerment for firing rounds into a neighbor's apartment, not related to Taylor's death. In March, he was found not guilty.

"Breonna Taylor should be alive today," Garland said. "The Justice Department is committed to defending and protecting the civil rights of every person in this country."

"From day one you've tried to make this situation go away by lying and then telling another lie to cover your next lie," said Gordon. "We're glad because it's now starting to undue those lies for Breonna. She was never a suspect." 

Gordon says her family is going to follow each defendant's case from start to finish. While optimistic, they're remaining cautious.

"We're gonna celebrate the win, but we're not going to lose focus. Because we know that charges can come and persons' charges can be dropped. And people can take plea deals, or you know, we may not get the time that we think they deserve," she says. 

They're waiting on some other officers involved that night to be charged as well. 

"We're still hoping that they're continuing and further in the investigation and there will be some, like I said, some other participants and this event that will be indicted as the investigation continues," she says. 

She hopes these charges send a strong message to law enforcement to always be accountable and transparent.

"We still have families going through if not the same exact situation as Breonna Taylor," said Gordon, "They're losing their lives to senseless, excessive use of force and brutality. We've vowed to stand with those families and make sure they get the justice they seek as well." 

According to the Department of Justice, willfully violating someone's rights leading to death carries a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison. An obstruction count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, conspiracy and false statement charges each carry maximum sentences of five years.

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