A police detective in Louisville, Kentucky, 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 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 Goodlett to enter a plea Aug. 22. Goodlett’s lawyer, Brandon Marshall, told the judge that she would enter a guilty plea at that time, news outlets reported.
Police had been investigating 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 Taylor’s apartment. Jaynes later admitted that he had never verified the information with an inspector and was fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Prosecutors said 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 Taylor’s address as his own. Then, prosecutors said, as fallout from the raid worsened, Goodlett lied to investigators about whether Jaynes had verified the information about the packages.
Goodlett and 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 FBI.
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. 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.
Jaynes, Meany and Hankison have all pleaded not guilty. A guilty plea from Goodlett could signal that she is cooperating with investigators in their case against the other three.
The maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge against 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 Taylor’s death.
Neither Myles Cosgrove nor Jonathan Mattingly, the two officers who shot Taylor, have been charged.
The Police Department moved to fire Goodlett, who has worked for the department for about a decade, after the Justice Department unsealed the charge against her last week.
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 police to enter without warning.
Police have said they nonetheless knocked and announced themselves during the raid, but Taylor’s new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was in bed with her when police arrived, said he had heard only banging at the door. Walker said that when 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 Taylor.
In the affidavit used to secure the warrant, Jaynes wrote that 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. Police raided several other homes on the night they shot Taylor, and Glover later pleaded guilty to selling cocaine and other charges.
At a hearing in front of a police board in Louisville last year, Jaynes said that while he had not personally verified that the former boyfriend was receiving packages at 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.