Early reviews of recordings of the Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings recordings released Friday portray two contrasting accounts of the event
Two Louisville police officers testified that they knocked several times and announced themselves as police before entering Taylor’s apt
Jurors also heard a recording of Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker telling police in an interview later that day that the plainclothes officers appeared to be intruders when they stormed the residence without warning
Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron’s office presented evidence to the grand jury last
The jurors returned an indictment Sept. 23 containing only three criminal, but non-homicide related charges against former Louisville Metro Police officer Brett Hankison
Hankison was indicted just for the bullets he fired into a neighboring white family’s apartment
Significantly, the jurors returned no criminal charges related to Taylor’s death
Cameron who declined to give details about his panel presentation, said “the grand jury agreed” that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove “were justified in the return of deadly fire” after Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired first
Subsequently, a juror sued for release of the tapes accusing Cameron of deliberately misrepresenting the jury’s proceedings
Taylor’s family also demanded the release of the tapes
The AG later admitted he never recommended the panel ‘even consider homicide charges against the officers involved in Taylor’s death
Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, called on Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to ‘start from scratch with a new investigation’
Recordings from the grand jury investigation into the Breonna Taylor police shooting case have been released in a rare disclosure.
Some 15 hours of audio were made public on Friday, following a lawsuit.
The recent decision not to charge any officers for Taylor’s March 13, killing renewed outcry over racial inequities.
Unrest gripped the victim’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky for days afterward.
The audio released on Friday highlighted the fact that not all the details have yet been reviewed, but early reviews of the tapes reveal testimony from at least two Louisville police officers who said that they knocked several times and announced themselves as police before entering Taylor’s apartment.
Louisville Metro Police Lt. Shawn Hoover claimed in a recorded interview also played for the panel that the officers knocked a total of three times.
“We knocked on the door, said ‘police,’ waited I don’t know, 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said ‘police,’ waited even longer,” Hoover said in the interview also recorded later in the day on March 13.
“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.’”
Whether or not the officers announced themselves before entering has been questioned by a number of Taylor’s neighbors and her boyfriend.
But jurors also heard a recording of Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker telling police in an interview later that day that the plainclothes officers appeared to be intruders when they stormed the residence without warning.
Walker, 27, said he and Taylor, 26, never heard the cops identify themselves. If they had, “it changes the whole situation because there was nothing for us to be scared of,” he said, according to the redacted grand jury recordings.
Grand jury deliberations and prosecutor recommendations were not recorded, and so were not included in the released material.
The death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, during a police raid in March has been a high-profile case, inspiring protests against police misconduct and racial inequality.
Taylor, who is black was killed when Louisville Metropolitan Police officers Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove stormed her Louisville home.
They were executing a ‘No knock’ search warrant as part of a drugs investigation, but no drugs were found on the property.
The facts presented to convince the judge who signed the warrant have been flagged as dubious.
Last week, Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment for firing shots into an adjoining apartment, but no-one was charged in connection with Taylor’s death.
The decision not to charge any officer with murder or manslaughter has led to repeated Black Lives Matter protests in Louisville and elsewhere.
It also prompted questions over the handling of the case by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, with critics calling for greater transparency.
Grand jury proceedings, are normally kept secret, but the convention was set aside after the state Attorney General’s office presented evidence to the grand jury last week and the panel of jurors returned an indictment Sept. 23 containing only three criminal , but non-homicide related charges against former Louisville Metro Police officer Brett Hankison
Hankison was indicted just for the bullets he fired into a neighboring white family’s apartment.
Notably, the jurors returned no criminal charges related to Taylor’s death.
Announcing the jury findings at a press conference last week, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron declined to give details about his panel presentation but said “the grand jury agreed” that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove “were justified in the return of deadly fire” after Walker allegedly held up a gun and fired first with Taylor by his side.
However, a juror sued for their release after Cameron announced last month that none of the officers involved in Taylor’s death would be charged for her killing.
The unnamed grand juror questioned public comments made by AG Cameron, prompting the lawsuit. The juror accused the attorney general of using the proceedings as “a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility”.
Taylor’s family also demanded the release of the tapes.
A statement from the family and their lawyers said the grand juror’s actions supported their belief that Cameron had misrepresented the jury’s deliberations.
“We urge the attorney general to release a complete and unedited copy of the recording, along with any and all evidence,” it read.
Cameron agreed to comply with a judge’s orders to release the tapes, telling reporters: “Once the public listens to the recording, they will see that over the course of two-and-a-half-days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.”
Cameron later admitted he never recommended the panel ‘even consider homicide charges against the officers involved in Taylor’s death.
This admission is significant because, while grand juries do have broad power to subpoena, ask questions and return charges, they rarely take control of the process in that way and generally follow the lead of prosecutors.
According to Cameron’s office, his recommendations to the grand jury were not recorded, so they were not part of the hours of material released Friday.
“I’m confident that once the public listens to the recordings, they will see that our team presented a thorough case to the Jefferson County Grand Jury,” Cameron said in a statement Friday.
“Our presentation followed the facts and the evidence, and the Grand Jury was given a complete picture of the events surrounding Ms. Taylor’s death on March 13th. While it is unusual for a court to require the release of the recordings from Grand Jury proceedings, we complied with the order, rather than challenging it, so that the full truth can be heard.”
Cameron’s office filed a redacted version of the recording on Friday, with the personal information of those involved deleted. These edits removed nearly four minutes of audio, according to court documents.
The city of Louisville agreed to pay the Taylor family a $12m settlement, and Hankison pleaded not guilty to the wanton endangerment charges on Monday.
If found guilty, the former police officer faces a five-year sentence for each of the three counts. He was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June.
The two other officers who took part in the raid – Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove – were reassigned to administrative duties.
Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, called on Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to start from scratch with a new investigation.
“It’s CLEAR @KYOAG wasn’t an unbiased prosecutor for the grand jury proceedings involving Breonna Taylor. Bre’s life mattered. She deserves justice & accountability. Urge @GovAndyBeshear to honor her life by reopening her case with a new prosecutor,” he tweeted Thursday.