KY: Former Louisville, Kentucky, Police Detective Pleads Guilty to a Federal Crime Related to the Death of Breonna Taylor

Conspiracy to falsify an affidavit to obtain a warrant to search, and to cover up the false warrant

The Justice Department announced today that former Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Detective Kelly Goodlett, 35, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to commit two federal crimes. Goodlett admitted that she conspired with another former LMPD detective, both to falsify an affidavit to obtain a warrant to search Breonna Taylor’s home without probable cause, which resulted in Taylor’s death, and to cover up the false warrant by lying to criminal investigators after Taylor was killed.

According to the plea agreement, Goodlett acknowledged that she helped another LMPD detective, and their supervisor obtain a warrant to search Taylor’s home, despite knowing that the officers lacked probable cause to do so. To establish probable cause, information in an affidavit accompanying a search warrant must be truthful and timely. Goodlett admitted that she knew that the affidavit in support of the warrant to search Taylor’s home was false, misleading and stale.

First, Goodlett admitted that key information in the warrant affidavit was false and misleading.  For example, the other LMPD detective claimed in the warrant affidavit that a U.S. Postal Inspector had verified that a target of LMPD’s narcotics investigation, J.G., had been receiving packages at Taylor’s home. Goodlett knew this claim was false because the other detective told her he had learned that “there’s nothing there” and that the Postal Service had not flagged Taylor’s address for receiving any suspicious packages.

The warrant affidavit also claimed that J.G. used Taylor’s home “as his current home address.” Goodlett admitted that this claim was misleading because officers knew that J.G. did not live at Taylor’s home. In fact, Goodlett acknowledged that she and the other detective knew of no evidence that J.G. had even visited Taylor’s home for several weeks before the warrant was obtained.

In addition, the warrant affidavit requested permission for officers to make a “no-knock” entry at Taylor’s home because the alleged drug dealers that LMPD was investigating had a history of fleeing from the police and destroying evidence. Goodlett admitted that all of the information in the warrant affidavit justifying a no-knock entry for Taylor’s home was false as it related to Taylor. Goodlett was not aware of any valid reason to seek a no-knock warrant at Taylor’s home.

Further, Goodlett admitted knowing that the warrant for Taylor’s home would be executed at night by officers with their weapons drawn, creating a risk that a person in the home could be injured or killed.

In addition, Goodlett admitted that the warrant affidavit was “stale” because it lacked up-to-date information showing probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime would be found in Taylor’s home. For example, the affidavit used to obtain a warrant suggested that there was an ongoing relationship between Taylor and J.G. However, as noted in the plea agreement, Goodlett knew that the police had no evidence that J.G. had even visited Taylor’s home for weeks at the time the officers requested a warrant. Before the warrant affidavit was finalized, Goodlett told the other LMPD detective that the warrant affidavit did not have enough current information to connect Taylor or her home to J.G.’s alleged narcotics activity. Goodlett also knew that, the day before officers obtained the warrant, her supervisor had conducted surveillance outside of Taylor’s home in part to search for new information that could freshen up the warrant affidavit, but her supervisor reported that he did not find anything new to connect J.G. to Taylor or her home.

Second, Goodlett admitted that she and the other detective conspired to obstruct justice by providing false information to investigators after Taylor was shot and killed. Specifically, in the plea agreement, Goodlett stated that she and the other detective provided a false “investigative letter” to criminal investigators, repeating the false and misleading claims from the warrant affidavit about J.G. receiving packages at Taylor’s home and using Taylor’s home as “his residence.” Goodlett admitted that she had hoped the false investigative letter would clear her and the other detective of suspicion of wrongdoing.

In her plea agreement, Goodlett also acknowledged that, approximately two weeks after they submitted the false investigative letter, she and the other detective agreed again to provide false information in response to allegations in the media that the other detective had lied in the warrant affidavit. On May 16, 2020, about two months after Taylor’s death, media outlets reported that the Postal Inspector had specifically denied the other detective’s claim, made in the warrant affidavit, that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service had told police that J.G. received packages at Taylor’s home. The next day, the other detective texted Goodlett that a criminal investigator wanted to meet with him. Goodlett further admitted that she and the other detective arranged to meet in the detective’s garage that night. During the garage meeting, the other detective told Goodlett that they needed to get on the same page because if he went down for the false warrant, she would go down too. Goodlett admitted that she and the other detective agreed to repeat a false cover story to others. Specifically, after the garage meeting, Goodlett falsely claimed to criminal investigators that, in January 2020, an LMPD sergeant had told her and the other detective “in passing” that he had verified that J.G. was receiving packages at Taylor’s home.

Goodlett pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings. Goodlett will be sentenced at a hearing to be scheduled at a later date.  According to the plea agreement, Goodlett faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division made the announcement.

The FBI Louisville Field Office investigated the case. Trial Attorneys Michael J. Songer and Anna Gotfryd of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Dembo for the Eastern District of Kentucky.


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