LOUISVILLE, Ky. (NewsNation Now) — Hours of grand jury proceedings were made public Friday in the case of Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting by police, a rare release of such material.
The jury brought no criminal charges against the officers for her killing, angering many in Louisville and around the country and setting off renewed protests.
A court ruled that the content of the proceedings, typically kept secret, should be released. The material does not include juror deliberations or prosecutor recommendations and statements, none of which were recorded, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office led the investigation into police actions in the Taylor shooting, did not object to the file’s release. But on Wednesday, his office asked for a week’s extension to edit out personal information from the material. The judge gave him two days.
Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first African American attorney general, has acknowledged that he did not recommend homicide charges for the officers involved.
What you see below is how the files were provided to NewsNation, including how they were labeled.
September 21, 2020 recordings:
Sept. 21 recording – 1
Sept. 21 recording – 2
Sept. 21 recording -3
Sept. 21 recording – 4
Sept. 21 recording – 5
September 22, 2020 recordings:
Sept. 22 recording – 1
Sept. 22 recording – 2
Sept. 22 recording – 3
Sept. 22 recording – 4
Sept. 22 recording – 5
Sept. 22 recording, Part 6
September 23, 2020 recordings:
Sept. 23 – 1
Sept. 23 recording – 2
Sept. 23 recording – 3
Police used a narcotics warrant to enter Taylor’s Louisville apartment on March 13 with a battering ram and shot her after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was shot five times. Police found no drugs there.
Cameron said two officers who fired their guns, hitting Taylor, were justified because Taylor’s boyfriend had shot at them first. The boyfriend has said he thought someone was breaking in. If he’d heard police announce themselves, “it changes the whole situation because there’s nothing for us to be scared of.”
“We knocked on the door, said ‘police,’ waited I don’t know 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said police, waited even longer,” Louisville police Lt. Shawn Hoover said in an interview recorded the same day Taylor was shot, and later played for the grand jury.
“So it was the third time that we were approaching, it had been like 45 seconds if not a minute,” Hoover said. “And then I said, `Let’s go, let’s breach it.’”
Another officer said they waited as much as two minutes. Whether or not officers announced themselves has been a key issue in the case because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he only fired at police because he feared they were intruders.
“First thing she says who is it? No response. So we are like what the heck. We both get up and start putting on clothes. Another knock at the door. She is like who is it? Loud at the top of her lungs. No response. So I’m like what the heck. So then I grabbed my gun which is legal. I’m licensed to carry and everything. I’ve never even fired my gun outside the range. I’m scared to death,” Walker said.
Police said they used a battering ram to enter the apartment, hitting the door three times before getting inside. Detective Michael Nobles said officers made so much noise that an upstairs neighbor came outside and had to be told to go back inside.
“Sergeant Mattingly and I knocked repeatedly and we announced police, police, police before other detectives were saying police. We were really loud.” Detective Michael Campbell said.
According to the grand jury recordings, detective Jonathan Mattingly got shot as soon as he leaned inside the apartment.
Mattingly said in testimony, some of which was previously released, that he fired four gunshots as he fell on his backside. Officer Brett Hankison said in a recorded police interview that moments after the doors was broken down he saw darkness and then “immediate illumination from fire.”
“What I saw at the time was a figure in a shooting stance and it looked as if he was holding, he or she was holding, an AR-15 or a long gun, a rifle,” said Hankison, who was later indicted by the grand jury on charges of wanton endangerment for firing shots that went into another home with people inside.
Walker was, in fact, using a handgun.
“We didn’t know who it was,” Walker said in his own police interview shortly after the shooting. “If we knew who it was, that would have never happened.”
Hoover said he believed Walker and Taylor were lying in wait for the officers.
“We were, in my opinion, we were ambushed,” Hoover said. “They knew we were there. I mean, hell, the neighbors knew we were there.”
About five minutes after the gunfire erupted and Taylor was shot, her boyfriend dialed 911.
According to audio of the call played for the grand jury, Walker told a dispatcher: “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”
Walker seemed confused when police interviewed him later. He said he didn’t know why police would knock on Taylor’s door.
Officers had a “no-knock” warrant to search Taylor’s apartment for drugs. But Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the warrant was not served as a “no-knock” because the officers announced themselves.
One law enforcement officer testified that police ultimately never executed the warrant to search Taylor’s apartment.
“Were drugs money or paraphernalia recovered from apartment 4? … The answer to that is no,” said Herman Hall, an investigator for the state attorney general’s office. “They didn’t go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”
The grand jury did charge fired Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a neighboring apartment. No one was hit. He has pleaded not guilty. Cameron said there was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s shots hit Taylor.
The audio recording of the jury proceedings will be added to Hankison’s public court file.
Protesters have taken to the streets to demand more accountability in the case. Activists, Taylor’s family and one of the jurors called for the grand jury file to be released.
The release comes a day after the first woman to lead the Louisiana Metro Police Department, Yvette Gentry, was sworn in as the department’s interim chief.
“I know I’m interim,” Gentry said at a small ceremony streamed on the department’s Facebook page. “But I represent something different to a lot of people being the first woman to take this title, so I’m not going to shortchange that.”