Grand jury recordings released in Breonna Taylor case
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron released the recordings of the grand jury proceedings in the deadly shooting of Breonna Taylor involving three Louisville police officers.
Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong the night Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot to death during a Louisville police raid in her apartment, according to recently-released recordings of evidence presented to a grand jury in the case.
The 15 hours of audiotape recordings, filed shortly before Friday's noon deadline, detailed the last chaotic minutes of Taylor's life.
The recordings show how Louisville Metro Police's botched drug raid on March 13 spun out of control when officers broke into Taylor's apartment and were met with a gunshot by Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. The police returned fire, with one officer saying they feared they were about to be ambushed.
Louisville Detective Brett Hankison said he saw muzzle flashes "lighting up the room" through the curtains and blinds and fired at them, unaware he was shooting at his own officers.
Hankison fired into the sliding glass patio door and window of Taylor's apartment, both of which were covered with blinds and in violation of a police department policy that requires cops to have a line of sight before firing. Hankison also said in radio communications that a subject was "barricading" inside Taylor's apartment with a rifle that "looks like AR." Walker had a Glock 9 mm handgun, which he fired once and then turned it over to the police.
A grand jury indicted Hankison but no criminal charges were filed against the two officers whose bullets killed Taylor: Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove.
Other revelations included that no master plan had existed for the search warrant on Taylor's apartment other than what was written on a whiteboard, according to Detective Herman Hall, who works for the attorney general's office.
Another detective from the AG's office said the warrant was executed as a "knock-and-announce" but neighbors disputed that, saying they never heard anyone shout police, the Courier-Journal reported.
Neighbor Jack Schuler said there had been so many shots that it sounded like he was at the "O.K. Corral," while Elaine Williams, another neighbor, said when she opened the door to her apartment she heard an officer say, "Reload, reload. Let's do what we got to do."
The woman who called 911 told investigators an officer on the scene told her — in a recorded Facebook Live video — that "some drug-dealing girl shot at the police." The woman asked if he was sure and he reiterated, "Some drug-dealing girl shot an officer."
Taylor's death started to draw national attention in May and she has been at the center of campaigns across the country shedding light on systemic racism and police violence. In September, Louisville officials agreed to pay Taylor's family $12 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. As part of the settlement, the city agreed to make changes to how police warrants are carried out by officers.
Lonita Baker, a lawyer representing Taylor's family, said the civil settlement was "nonnegotiable without significant police reform."
Critics have slammed the city for moving so slowly in the case, especially compared to the George Floyd shooting in Minneapolis, where officers were quickly fired and charged.
Separately, attorneys for Taylor's family have asked Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to appoint a new special prosecutor to the case. The family also slammed Attorney General Daniel Cameron for "intentionally" not charging the three officers involved in Taylor's killing with homicide.
"Cameron did not serve as an unbiased prosecutor in the case and intentionally did not present charges to the grand jury that would have pursued justice for Ms. Tayor," an open letter addressed to the Democratic governor reads.
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