Newly released recordings of the grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case portray a wildly chaotic and dangerous shooting at the Louisville apartment complex in March, and a shell-shocked boyfriend processing his girlfriend’s death.
The recordings were made public Friday after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office submitted a redacted version to Jefferson County Circuit Court. The release comes after an anonymous member of the grand jury, which returned no indictments in Taylor’s death, filed a motion on Monday to compel the release of the materials, which a judge granted.
Last week, Cameron announced that the grand jury indicted Officer Brett Hankison, who was fired earlier this year on charges of “wanton endangerment” during the late-night raid on Taylor’s apartment. Hankison allegedly fired shots that entered a neighbor’s apartment. No one in that apartment was injured and he is not charged with shooting Taylor.
The other two officers involved in the case, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and police Detective Myles Cosgrove, who fired the shot that killed Taylor, 26, were not charged. Cameron said their actions were justified because Taylor’s boyfriend shot at them first. The decision outraged Taylor’s supporters and sparked protests in Louisville and across the nation, and attorneys for Taylor’s family repeatedly called for the tapes to be released.
GRAND JURY RECORDING from #BreonnaTaylor case has been released publicly. With 20+ hours of audio, everyone can now listen to exactly what @kyoag presented to the grand jury! We will be reviewing all footage and provide updates when available.
FULL AUDIO: https://t.co/fDIOI46KrM
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 2, 2020
The grand jury recordings, among other things, portray a turbulent shooting scene recounted from multiple viewpoints, including the three officers, who said they were all reacting in the moment; the neighbors, who were confused and frightened by rampant gunfire; and Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, who said he believed he was defending himself and Taylor from intruders.
According to the recording, Jeff Fogg, who works in the attorney general’s Department of Criminal Investigations, told the jury that officers were executing a warrant at the residence to search for drugs, drug paraphernalia and money.
The warrant that brought the officers to Taylor’s apartment was part of an investigation into Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, a drug trafficking suspect, the Associated Press reported.
Fogg says police were executing a no-knock warrant, but it was served as a knock-and-announce warrant. “The officers were executing a valid search warrant,” he told the jury.
The officers tried to execute the warrant around 12:35 a.m. on March 13, according to Fogg. Mattingly was the first person to go through the door, and was shot in the leg. Mattingly then fired about six rounds from inside the apartment, and Cosgrove fired 16 rounds. Hankison, from a different vantage point, fired 10 shots from outside the apartment, Fogg said.
After the shooting, Cosgrove, Hankison and Mattingly were interviewed by the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit. Those interviews were heard by the grand jury and were included in the released recordings.
According to the interviews, Mattingly told investigators that the officers announced themselves and knocked repeatedly, but there was no response. Police then breached the apartment.
“As soon as I clear the threshold of the front door,” Mattingly said, “I could see down the hallway.” Mattingly saw a man and a woman standing “shoulder to shoulder,” and saw the man in a “stretched out position,” he said. “And as soon as I clear, he fired.”
Mattingly said he then fired back, and at some point he went to the ground while wounded.
At the same time, Cosgrove, who was near Mattingly but says he did not have a “good visual of the apartment,” told investigators all he could see was “darkness and then flashes of light.”
“At the same time I'm seeing these flashes,” he said, “I know that [Mattingly] is at my feet. I'm also not hearing anything. These flashes continue. I know that someone has been shot, that [Mattingly] has been injured.”
Cosgrove then saw a shadowy figure, according to the recording. “I see this distorted shadowy ... this figure in front of me. This is all happening in seconds. I’m still standing in more or less the same spot.”
Cosgrove, the officer who fatally shot Taylor, acknowledge that he fired his gun. “I'm almost positive that I had fired during those flashes.”
While all this was happening, Hankison, who was outside the apartment near the sliding doors, told investigators he saw someone inside the apartment holding what looked like an “AR-15 or a long gun.” As Hankison rushed to safety, he told investigators, he could hear firing.
“[Mattingly] said he was down or said ‘I’m hit,’” Hankison said. “It sounded like rapid fire from like an AR-15, which in my mind at the time, aligned perfectly with what I had seen, I thought I saw a rifle. I thought I saw someone in a shooting stance.”
Hankison told investigators he believed his “only option was to return fire.” But his testimony, those of the other officers, Walker and Cameron, all indicate the rapid gunfire was from the police.
In his interview with the Public Integrity Unit, Walker said he was armed with a 9mm handgun, a weapon he legally owns and had never fired before besides at a shooting range.
Before the shooting, Walker said he and Taylor were woken up by a “loud bang.” He said Taylor repeatedly asked who was at the door, her voice growing louder each time she asked. There was no response, he said.
“We both get up,” he said. “Another knock at the door. [Taylor] is like ‘who is it,’ louder, at the top of her lungs. No response. I’m like, ‘What the heck.’”
Walker said he grabbed his gun, and he and Taylor both got dressed to answer the door, but they’d only made it to the hallway when the door flew off the hinges. He “let off one shot,” he said.
“All of a sudden there’s a whole lot of shots,” Walker said. “And we both just dropped to the ground and the gun fell. I’m scared to death. Now we’re seeing lights and stuff. There’s a lot of yelling and stuff. There’s just shooting. We’re both on the ground. I’m panicking. She’s right there on the ground, bleeding. She’s bleeding and nobody’s coming.”
Walker said multiple times that he didn’t hear anyone announce themselves at the door, while all three officers said they did.
“It’s late at night,” Walker said. “Nobody’s saying anything. And you keep knocking and you not saying anything. It scared me when the door got kicked so my reaction is, ‘I’m trying to protect her.’”
Several neighbors called 911 during the shooting, sounding frantic and terrified.
“Lots of gunshots right now,” one caller said. “I mean it came out of nowhere, and almost sounded like someone was shooting back but I am not sure. I was in my bed and I just jumped up. My daughter jumped up because it just scared her. They are still shooting. Come on, come on. You all need to come over here. Shooting like crazy.”
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