LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A former police detective admitted on Tuesday that she had helped mislead a judge into authorizing a raid of Breonna Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Ky., setting in motion the faulty nighttime operation in which the police fatally shot Ms. Taylor.
The former detective, Kelly Goodlett, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy, admitting that she had worked with another officer to falsify a search warrant application and had later lied to cover up their act. In pleading guilty, Ms. Goodlett became the first police officer to be convicted over the March 2020 raid, during which the police were searching for evidence of drug dealing by Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend Jamarcus Glover.
Ms. Goodlett’s plea suggested that she may be cooperating with the Justice Department prosecutors who have charged her and two other former Louisville police officers over their roles in acquiring the search warrant for the raid. A fourth officer is accused of violating Ms. Taylor’s civil rights, as well as her neighbors’, by firing 10 bullets through the two apartments. None of those bullets struck anyone.
Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who hoped to become a nurse, was sleeping in bed next to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when the police began banging on her door after midnight. Mr. Walker said later that when the banging began, they asked who was at the door and received no response, though the officers said they had announced themselves.
Mr. Walker said that when the officers rammed open the apartment door, he believed they were intruders and fired one shot, striking an officer in the leg. Three officers returned fire.
Neither of the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor has been charged. Prosecutors have said in court documents that neither of those officers knew that the search warrant was based partially on false information.
Ms. Goodlett, who resigned from the police force after she was charged earlier this month, was not present at the raid.
For more than a month after the shooting, Ms. Taylor’s death received little attention. It began to attract scrutiny in May 2020, just before a police officer in Minneapolis was recorded fatally kneeling on George Floyd’s neck as he struggled to breathe. The police killings of Ms. Taylor and Mr. Floyd, both of whom were Black, led to protests against police brutality and racism across the United States in the spring and summer of 2020, quickly becoming one of the largest protest movements in American history.
Brett Hankison, the former detective who is facing federal charges of violating the rights of Ms. Taylor and her neighbors by firing shots through their apartments, also faced state charges over the shooting, but a jury acquitted him earlier this year. Before the Justice Department stepped in this month, he was the only officer to face criminal charges over the raid.
The shooting of Ms. Taylor prompted several states and cities to ban or restrict the use of “no-knock” warrants, which authorize police officers to charge into people’s homes without warning. Those warrants have led to a series of fatal shootouts, particularly when they are based on faulty information or a police officer’s lies. In the raid on Ms. Taylor’s home, the police had obtained such a warrant; officers did knock on her door, but it remains in dispute whether they announced themselves as the police.
In the application for the search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home, Joshua Jaynes, a former detective who is among those facing charges, claimed that he had “verified through a U.S. postal inspector” that Mr. Glover was having packages sent to her apartment. Mr. Jaynes later admitted that he had not spoken with any postal inspector.
In court documents, prosecutors have said that Ms. Goodlett knew that Mr. Jaynes’s claim in the warrant application was false, and that she had added another misleading statement when she asserted that Mr. Glover had been using her address as his own.
As Ms. Taylor’s death attracted more public attention, prosecutors said, Ms. Goodlett and Mr. Jaynes met in Mr. Jaynes’s garage and decided to tell investigators that the warrant had been based not on the verification of a postal inspector, but on an offhand comment by a sergeant. Mr. Jaynes has repeated that claim, but federal prosecutors said that it, too, was false.
The government has charged Mr. Jaynes with violating Ms. Taylor’s rights by submitting the false warrant application and with conspiring to obstruct investigations into the warrant.
The judge who signed off on the warrant, Judge Mary Shaw, has declined to comment about the matter, noting that she could be called to testify in the trials of the other officers.
Neither the Justice Department nor Ms. Goodlett’s lawyer has commented on whether Ms. Goodlett has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.