The fired police officer charged over Breonna Taylor’s death thought his colleagues were ‘being executed’ when he opened fire, grand jury recordings reveal.
An emotional former Detective Brett Hankison describes how he heard Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly was shot in the leg by Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker during the botched raid in Louisville, Kentucky. Fellow officer Myles Cosgrove had joined Mattingly in the doorway and opened fire on Walker. Six shots hit Taylor, killing her.
Speaking shortly after the shooting in March, Hankison said: ‘I didn’t know if John was down and they couldn’t get his body or if he was – but all I could hear was the firing. I saw the flashing.
‘I thought they were just being executed because I knew they were helping John because John said ‘I’m hit, I’m down’ and the gunfire intensified.’
Hankison was the only officer indicted by the grand jury, which charged him with wanton endangerment for shooting into another home with people inside. He has pleaded not guilty.
Taylor’s death has captured national attention and prompted street protests over racism and police use of force. Demonstrators have called for the arrest of the officers and demanded justice for black emergency medical technician Taylor, 26.
In testimony heard by the grand jury and released Friday he said: ‘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.’
Taylor’s boyfriends, Kenneth Walker, was later determined to have a 9mm handgun.
But Hankison, who shot 10 times, said he feared he and his colleagues were ‘sitting ducks’.
Officer Brett Hankison was one of the three officers on the scene when Taylor was shot and killed. He has been charged with wanton endangerment
Hankison, who had volunteered to work the shift on his day off, added: ‘We were all kind of the older guys who were put with it because this was going to be the easy location.’
He also told investigators that the EMT’s boyfriend initially claimed she was the one who shot at officers when they entered her 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.
Neither Jonathan Mattingly (left) nor Myles Cosgrove (right) have been charged over Taylor’s death
In further recordings made public Friday police serving the search warrant said they banged on her door and announced themselves from 30 to 90 seconds before breaking in.
The newly revealed details from the police officers contrast with earlier witness reports, and their account has been a point of contention in the case that has captured national attention and prompted street protests over racism and police use of force.
Kentucky’s attorney general on Friday released audio recordings of the grand jury proceedings offering a rare peek at the inner workings of a grand jury, which is normally kept secret.
Megan Thee Stallion marked her solo debut as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live by delivering a politically-charged message to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
The 25-year-old rapper called out Cameron over his handling of the case of Taylor. Megan compared Cameron to ‘the sell out negros that sold our people into slavery’ before diving into a speech about the ‘need to protect our black women’.
Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first black AG, has acknowledged that he did not recommend homicide charges for the officers involved, adding that the grand jury had the responsibility to bring additional charges if it believed they were warranted.
The grand jury last week cleared the two white officers who shot Taylor and charged a third with wanton endangerment for stray bullets that hit a neighboring apartment in the March 13 raid.
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
Street protesters have called for the arrest of the officers and demanded justice for Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician whose family won a $12 million wrongful death settlement from the city of Louisville.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was with her, has said he believed the plainclothes officers who burst in might have been Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. He fired once, wounding one officer. Police then fired 32 rounds, six of which hit Taylor.
Hours later and with his voice breaking with emotion, the recordings showed, Walker told police he and Taylor were ‘scared to death’ at the banging at the door, with Taylor yelling ‘Who is it?’ at the top of her lungs but hearing no response.
The recordings made over three days of proceedings show police were confused by the burst of their own gunfire. One officer said he did not realize he had fired his weapon until after the fact.
The recordings also demonstrate grand jurors were engaged with the investigators presenting the case, peppering them with questions about why police did not wear body cameras, and whether police in the raid were aware that other officers had already located the central suspect in the investigation, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend.
Neither Jonathan Mattingly (left) nor Myles Cosgrove (right) have been charged over Taylor’s death
Strikingly absent were any recordings of prosecutor recommendations that might have revealed how prosecutors guided the 12-member panel’s thinking.
‘Juror deliberations and prosecutor recommendations and statements were not recorded, as they are not evidence,’ Kentucky Attorney General Cameron said in a statement.
In a police interview on March 25 that was played to the grand jury last week, the officer who was wounded, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly, said police banged on Taylor’s door six or seven different times, repeatedly announcing they were police there to serve a search warrant.
‘It probably lasted between 45 seconds and a minute, banging on the door,’ Mattingly said, before police broke in.
Detective Myles Cosgrove, in his interview with police investigators, said the officers knocked on the door for about 90 seconds.
Detective Brett Hankison, the officer charged with wanton endangerment, estimated there were 30 to 45 seconds of ‘banging and announcing, knocking and announcing.’
Multiple witnesses told reporters they did not hear any police announcement, and Cameron acknowledged that the single witness who verified the police account of their announcement changed his story.
The witness first told investigators in March he did not hear police identify themselves but two months later, in a follow-up interview, the witness said he heard officers knock and announce, according to an investigator who testified before the grand jury.
Officers, who had a ‘no-knock’ warrant, testified that they knocked three times and identified themselves before they breached her apartment
Evidence photos show a glass sliding door was shattered by police bullets in the shooting
Cosgrove, who fired 16 shots, described the experience as disorienting, with bright muzzle flashes interrupting the darkness, as he learned that Mattingly had been shot.
He said he only realized after the fact that he had started firing his gun. ‘It’s like a surreal thing,’ Cosgrove said.
Walker’s single round came from a 9 mm handgun that he was licensed to carry. Taylor was unarmed.
After the gunfire, Walker said he dropped to the ground in fear when he saw Taylor had been shot.
‘She’s right there on the ground like bleeding,’ he said, before breaking down with emotion.
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.’