The Courier Journal has learned that the U.S. Department of Justice is set to announce the findings of a sweeping investigation of Louisville Metro and the city’s police department on Wednesday, the result of a nearly two-year probe following the killing of Breonna Taylor.
The investigation, announced in April 2021 after nearly a year of protests over Taylor’s killing at the hands of LMPD officers, aimed to assess “all types of force” used by local police, including potential violations of the First Amendment, whether the department engages in discriminatory policing and whether it worked in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“The investigation will include a comprehensive review of LMPD policies, training, and supervision, as well as LMPD’s systems of accountability, including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition, and discipline,” the department’s announcement on April 26, 2021, said.
What happened in the Breonna Taylor case
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician in Louisville, was shot and killed by LMPD officers serving a no-knock warrant at her apartment in the early-morning hours of March 13, 2020. Her death was a key factor behind national protests that summer over police killings of Black Americans and was at the center of months of demonstrations in Louisville, and Wednesday’s announcement comes nearly three years after the fatal shooting.
After Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his team of prosecutors presented the shooting to a grand jury, just one officer who fired their weapon that night was indicted locally – Brett Hankison, on wanton endangerment charges stemming from rounds he fired that entered a neighbor’s apartment. He was acquitted in March 2022.
In August 2022, however, four former officers were indicted by a federal grand jury – Hankison, on excessive force charges, along with Joshua Jaynes, Kelly Ann Goodlett and Kyle Meany, who were accused of taking steps to falsify the warrant used in the raid at Taylor’s apartment. Goodlett later pleaded guilty, while charges against the other former officers are still pending.
Steve Conrad, who was LMPD’s chief at the time of Taylor’s death, was fired in June 2020 after local barbecue stand owner David McAtee was shot and killed by law enforcement officials breaking up a crowd near his business on an early night of the protests. He was fired by then-Mayor Greg Fischer after it was determined officers were not wearing operational body cameras at the time of that shooting. Fischer faced intense pressure to step down amid the 2020 protests but remained in office until his third and final term expired at the end of 2022.
The city of Louisville later settled with Taylor’s family for $12 million and agreed to a number of police reforms.
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