Metro Louisville

 

Facing pressure over her own alleged lies, a beleaguered Louisville Metro Police officer turned over information to FBI investigators, lawyers for Breonna Taylor’s family said. Detective Kelly Goodlett allegedly provided “pivotal” information about her and her colleagues’ roles in obtaining the search warrant that prosecutors say led to Taylor’s death.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Goodlett and three other current and former LMPD officers for civil rights violations and conspiracy in Taylor’s death.

Attorney Ben Crump, who represented Taylor’s family in a civil lawsuit against the city in 2020, said Goodlett took a plea deal and that her testimony shaped the federal investigation.

“It was pivotal. It was crucial,” Crump told reporters Thursday.

“It’s really a ‘Serpico’ moment, when you have an officer who finally starts telling on everybody and how they conspired together to cover up the murder this innocent Black woman,” he said, making reference to the 1973 film about a whistle-blower police officer in New York City.

Crump and his co-counsel Lonita Baker said Goodlett pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges. As part of the deal, Crump said Goodlett offered information about how she and her colleagues allegedly lied to obtain the warrant for Taylor’s home, and later, to cover their tracks.

Goodlett is due in federal court on August 12, and most of her court records are sealed. But her publicly-available charging document and other officers’ indictments point to Goodlett as a likely source of information for the DOJ.

A lie, a death and a cover-up

LMPD

Goodlett allegedly lied along with her colleague, former LMPD detective Joshua Jaynes, in order to get a search warrant to raid Taylor’s apartment in March 2020, according to charging documents.

Investigators say Jaynes falsely claimed in the warrant application that Jamarcus Glover, the target of the broader narcotics investigation that led to the March 13, 2020 operation, was receiving packages at his ex-girlfriend Taylor’s address at Springfield Drive in south Louisville.

Two months after officers killed Taylor during that raid, Goodlett and Jaynes created a false narrative to cover their tracks, coordinating their stories through texts, calls and a secret meeting in Jaynes’ garage, according to federal prosecutors.

“When Joshua Jaynes and Kelly Goodlett met in the garage on the evening of May 17, 2020, Joshua Jaynes relayed to Kelly Goodlett that they needed to get on the same page because they could both go down for putting false information in the Springfield Drive warrant affidavit,” Goodlett’s charging document reads.

The false information, prosecutors say, was that Jaynes had verified with a U.S. postal inspector that Glover was receiving packages at Taylor’s residence. They say Goodlett knew this information to be false, but added a paragraph to a warrant affidavit “that she knew was misleading,” stating detectives used a database to verify Taylor’s residence was Glover’s current home address.

LMPD detectives knew at the time that Glover was living miles away in the Russell neighborhood, and hadn’t received packages at Taylor’s in months.

Jaynes admitted in a Nov. 2020 court filing that some language in the affidavit was “incorrect,” though he characterized the error as an “honest mistake.”

According to investigators, Goodlett and Jaynes met in Jaynes’ home garage after the postal inspector told WDRB Glover was not in fact receiving packages at Taylor’s home. In Jaynes’ garage, Jaynes and Goodlett “agreed to tell investigators a false story”: that another officer, then-Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, had told them that Glover was receiving packages at Taylor’s address.

An internal police investigation found Mattingly learned the opposite: that there were no packages for Glover at Taylor’s.

Process points to Goodlett

The difference in how Goodlett and her colleagues were charged suggests it’s possible Goodlett took a plea deal in exchange for information.

While Jaynes and another alleged co-conspirator, Sgt. Kyle Meany, were indicted by a federal grand jury, Goodlett was charged on information.

Experts say an information is usually used when there’s overwhelming evidence against a defendant, and defense attorneys believe that person would be better served by pleading guilty to the information.

University of Louisville Law professor Leslie Abramson said, from looking at the charging documents, “it is possible that she took a plea deal, in exchange for testimony that would be useful for the prosecution.”

“Even more ideal for her would have been to enter a diversion program in exchange for her testimony,” Abramson told WFPL News in an email.

If Goodlett qualifies for a federal diversion program and her testimony is helpful, the prosecution may be willing to expunge the conviction, Abramson said.

Details in the charging documents about one-on-one conversations between Goodlett and Jaynes also point to her as the informant.

It’s not clear when Goodlett’s court records will be unsealed. Abramson said documents are sealed to either prevent facts from ever being disclosed, “or to delay disclosure until the witness testifies — a point in time when no one could effectively adjust their version of facts to her version.”

Some suggest Goodlett may also be especially vulnerable to legal pressure.

“I think there was also another situation that may have contributed to her willingness to cooperate and that is what is referred to, you’ve probably heard, as ‘slushy-gate,’” Jaynes’ attorney Thomas Clay told WFPL on Friday.

Goodlett was not among the LMPD officers indicted recently in the “slushy-gate” scandal, but she was reassigned and investigated.

Jaynes and Meany pleaded not guilty to their charges Thursday, according to court documents released Friday morning.  Police chief Erika Shields started termination proceedings for Goodlett and Meany on Thursday, according to a statement from the department.

A federal grand jury also indicted former LMPD officer Brett Hankison for using unconstitutional excessive force when he shot blindly into Taylor’s apartment complex. He pleaded not guilty Thursday as well.

Hankison was fired in 2020 for his role in the raid, and subsequently charged with wanton endangerment of Taylor’s neighbors by the state. A jury acquitted him in March.

The DOJ is continuing its separate investigation into whether LMPD routinely uses excessive force or violates residents’ civil rights, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday.

Representatives for the FBI’s Louisville field office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.