Four police officers charged two years after the death of African-American Briona Taylor

Police are accused of using excessive force and lying on the search warrant.

More than two years after the tragedy, and while local justice had passed the towel, the Department of Justice on Thursday indicted four US police officers for their role in the death of a young black woman named Briona Taylor, who became the Black Lives Matter movement. icon.

Minister Merrick Garland said during a press conference that one of the officers was accused of “excessive use of force”, while the other three were accused of “falsifying” the search warrant in the origin of the operation.

“I’ve been waiting for this for 874 days,” replied the young woman’s mother, Tamika Palmer. “But it’s still painful,” she added in front of the cameras, blaming local authorities for not “doing the right thing”.

In the shadow of George Floyd

On March 13, 2020, three police officers in Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, broke into the home of 26-year-old Briona Taylor in the middle of the night as part of a drug smuggling investigation targeting her ex-boyfriend. His new companion, Kenneth Walker, believed they were thieves and fired a shot with a legally owned weapon. Police responded and Briona Taylor took about 20 bullets.

The agents were armed with a so-called “no knock” memo, which allows them to break down the door without warning. They claim to have all declared themselves, which Kenneth Walker disputes.

Breonna Taylor’s death did not attract much attention until the death of African-American George Floyd, who was suffocated by a white police officer in May 2020. The young woman’s name was then chanted in all summer anti-racism protests.

A delegation that raises questions

Despite the outrage, in September 2020 local prosecutors brought charges against just one police officer, not for the murder of Briona Taylor but for “endangering her neighbor” by unloading his weapon through a barrier. Then Louisville caught fire. Police officer Brett Hankson, 46, was acquitted last March of a sense of injustice in anti-racist circles and among the city’s black community.

The federal judiciary finally decided to charge him with “excessive use of force”. And the Minister of Justice justified, “He fired ten shots through a window and a French window covered with blackout curtains.”

Three of his former colleagues who were not involved in the raid, Joshua Gaines, Kyle Meaney and Kelly Goodlett, are accused of lying about the search warrant at the origin of the tragedy.

“The defendants know that the memo contains false and misleading information, and that (the information) has been omitted,” Merrick Garland explained. “They knew this could create a dangerous situation and we confirm that these illegal actions led to the death of Ms. Taylor,” he added.

The memo confirmed that police had verified that Briona Taylor’s ex-boyfriend had received packages at the latter’s home. “Messrs. Gaines and Goodlett have learned that this is not true,” the minister said. According to him, the agents had then “taken measures to cover up their crimes” and in particular lied to the FBI.

‘It’s a big step towards justice’

The announcement of the lawsuits was welcomed by those close to Breonna Taylor, who demanded the immediate dismissal of the clients who remain in their positions.

Renowned attorney Ben Crump, who represents this family and many black victims of police violence, commented: “This is a huge step toward justice.” “It is time for the police officers involved in the cover-up to stop and take responsibility for the murder of this innocent young black woman,” he added.

To calm the climate and put an end to a civil complaint, the Louisville city council has agreed to pay $12 million to Breonna Taylor’s family and embark on initial police reforms. The practices of its law enforcement agencies are still under investigation by the federal government.

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