The fired Kentucky officer indicted on minor charges in the Breonna Taylor case told investigators that the EMT’s boyfriend initially claimed she was the one who shot at officers when they entered her apartment, grand jury testimony reveals.
About 20 hours of audio from secret grand jury proceedings related to the Taylor case was released for the first time on Friday.
Among the recordings is Brett Hankison’s interview with investigators in March after the 26-year-old black woman was killed when he and two other white officers opened fire in her Louisville apartment.
Hankison told investigators, in an interview heard by the grand jury, that Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had told him ‘she was the one who shot at us’. Walker later said that he was the one who opened fire.
One of Taylor’s neighbors also told investigators that police had told her that ‘some drug-dealing girl shot an officer’.
Officers had a ‘no-knock’ warrant to search Taylor’s apartment for drugs, in relation to her ex-boyfriend, the night she was killed.
No drugs were ever found in her apartment.
The fired Kentucky officer indicted on minor charges in the Breonna Taylor case told investigators that the EMT’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, initially claimed she was the one who shot at officers when they entered her apartment, secret grand jury testimony reveals
Police have said they knocked repeatedly before opening fire after the first officer inside her door was struck by a bullet.
Hankison told investigators that he believed the gunfire came from an AR-15 rifle. He could be heard on radio calls saying one of his fellow officers had just been shot with an ‘AR’. Police later discovered that the weapon was a 9mm handgun.
Hankison said that he saw ‘intense fire’ flashing through the curtain and ‘lighting up the room’. He said he thought that even though he was wearing his protective vest ‘there is no way we can challenge this guy with an assault rifle’.
Hankison’s account of the March 13 raid on Taylor’s apartment was contained in hours of recordings made public in a rare release for proceedings that are typically kept secret.
Officer Brett Hanksion was one of the three officers on the scene when Taylor was shot and killed. He has been charged with wanton endangerment
A court ruled that the content of the proceedings should be made public after the grand jury’s decision not to charge the officers with Taylor’s killing angered many in Louisville and around the country and set off renewed protests.
Hankison, who was fired in the aftermath, was charged with wanton endangerment after his bullets entered a neighboring apartment.
The material released on Friday does not include juror deliberations or prosecutor recommendations and statements, none of which were recorded, according to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office carried out the investigation.
Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first black attorney general, has acknowledged that he did not recommend homicide charges for the officers involved.
Police who shot dead Breonna Taylor say knocked on her apartment door three times and yelled ‘police’ before they said ‘let’s go, let’s breach it’
Other audio played to the grand jury included testimony from at least two other officers that they knocked repeatedly and identified themselves for a minute or more before using a battering ram to enter Taylor’s apartment.
Taylor’s boyfriend maintains he did not hear officers announce themselves. Whether or not officers announced themselves has been a key issue in the case because Walker said he only fired at police because he feared they were intruders.
‘We knocked on the door, said police, waited I don’t know 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said police, waited even longer,’ Louisville, Kentucky, police Lt. Shawn Hoover said in an interview recorded the day Taylor was shot.
‘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’.’
About 20 hours of audio from the grand jury proceedings related to the Breonna Taylor case was released on Friday after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office led the investigaiton, was ordered to by a court
Officers, who had a ‘no-knock’ warrant, testified that they knocked three times and identified themselves before they breached her apartment
Detective Myles Cosgrove, one of the three officers who fired at Taylor, told investigators that a neighbor came out during that time and yelled at Officer Hankison to leave Taylor alone.
He said the neighbor yelled ‘something about leave her alone, there was some girl there’.
Cosgrove also told investigators that officers had been told that they were approaching the house of a ‘soft target’ and that they should ‘use our maturity as investigators get into this house’.
He said that even though they had a no-knock warrant they decided to knock and announce their presence.
Cosgrove said during the time they were knocking on Taylor’s door it went from ‘gentle knocking’ to ‘forceful pounding’ as they yelled ‘police’.
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.
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.
Hankison told investigators 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,’ he said.
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.’
Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend says he was ‘scared’ and maintains he didn’t know the men bursting into the apartment were police
Walker has repeatedly said he didn’t know the men who burst into the home were police.
‘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.’
He told police that he and Taylor had just fallen asleep when they heard banging on the door.
Walker told investigators conducting an internal police review that Taylor asked once who was there and they heard no response. Walker told police he grabbed his gun, which he said was legally registered, and that Taylor was ‘yelling at the top of her lungs, and I am too at this point. No answer. No response. No nothing.’
Walker said when they got out of bed and were walking toward the door, ‘the door like comes like off the hinges.’
Evidence photos taken inside Taylor’s home show bullet holes in the wall after police opened fire during the raid
Evidence photos show a glass sliding door was shattered by police bullets in the shooting
He said that’s when he ‘let off one shot’ but still couldn’t see who was there.
He said after he fired his gun ‘all of a sudden there’s a whole lot of shots’.
‘Next thing I know, she’s on the ground and the door’s busted open and I hear a bunch of yelling and just panicking.
‘And she’s right here bleeding. And nobody’s coming, and I’m just confused and scared.’
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.
He told investigators that, minutes after the shooting, after he opened fire at police and officers fatally shot Taylor, ‘One officer told me I was going to jail for the rest of my life.’
Speaking to internal investigators a few hours later, he said he wasn’t sure which officer said that to him.
Walker went on to say that an officer ‘asked me, ‘Were you hit by any bullets?’ I said no. He said, ‘That´s unfortunate.’ Exact words.’
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,’ the officer said on the recording.
‘They didn’t go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.’
Neither Jonathan Mattingly (left) nor Myles Cosgrove (right) have been charged over Taylor’s death
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.
The proceedings released to the public do not contain Cameron’s recommendations about what, if any, charges the jury should file against the officers who conducted the drug raid.
Cameron said neither the prosecutors’ recommendations nor the jury’s deliberations were recorded ‘as they are not evidence’. He said not recording them was ‘customary’.
Police used a narcotics warrant to enter Taylor’s Louisville apartment on March 13. The 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was shot five times.
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.
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 were being added to Hankison’s public court file.
Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron hits out at ‘repugnant’ critics who called him a ‘race traitor’ for his handling of the case
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron hit out at ‘repugnant’ critics who called him a ‘race traitor’ for his handling of the case just hours before the grand jury audio was released.
Cameron has acknowledged that he did not recommend homicide charges for the officers involved.
In the aftermath of the grand jury decision, Cameron was labelled ‘scum’, an ‘Uncle Tom’ and a ‘sell-out’, with detractors accusing him of siding with the white cops instead of the black victim.
In an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Thursday evening, Cameron defended his position, stating: ‘It is so unfortunate… because I led with the facts and the truth and had that lead to the conclusion.
‘It is repugnant, it is so disappointing, but it’s par for the course. Anytime someone stands for the truth, and when that truth is different from a narrative that has been pushed by others, this is how they respond.’
‘Black Republicans, folks that believe in the truth … we are going to stand up. That’s what I did in presenting all of the information to the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor investigation, and that is what I’m charged to do.
‘The tragedy is that Breonna Taylor… was hit. But he tragedy doesn’t allow for me to not present facts and truth — and that’s what we’ve done here.’
Cameron said two officers who fired their guns, hitting Taylor, were justified because Walker had fired at them first.
In an interview earlier this week, Cameron claimed that the grand jury could have brought murder charges against the other two cops on the scene – Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrobe.
However, Cameron claimed claimed his office did not do so because they would never have been able to prove the murder accusations at trial.
‘Basically your question is about whether we recommended any murder charges against Cosgrove and Mattingly. The answer is no. Ultimately, our judgement is that the [only] charge that we could prove at trial beyond a reasonable doubt was for wanton endangerment against Hankison.’