The fear and confusion that arose shortly after midnight inside and outside Taylor's Louisville home were captured in more than 15 hours of recordings that, in a rare move, were made public. (EFE Agency)
Louisville, Kentucky – Louisville police officers said they spent more than a minute identifying themselves as officers before forcing into Breonna Taylor's apartment, but her boyfriend said he never heard them according to recordings of grand jury sessions. that he chose to accept the recommendations of the prosecutor Daniel Cameron not to file charges against the agents who killed the woman.
The dramatic and sometimes contradictory descriptions of the March 13 raid are the key to a case that has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism. When officers broke into the apartment, Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend, fired a single shot. He admitted that he may not have heard the officers identify themselves due to where he was inside the apartment. If he had listened to them, Walker said, “then the whole situation would have changed, for we would have had no reason to be afraid.”
The fear and confusion that arose shortly after midnight inside and outside Taylor's Louisville home were captured in more than 15 hours of recordings that, in a rare move, were made public. Although the audios add additional details of what happened after officers unloaded 32 rounds into the residence, they do not appear to change the fundamental narrative previously made public.
The recordings do not include any discussion about the possible filing of criminal charges against the officers who caused Taylor's death, as Cameron determined, days before, that the officers acted in self-defense.
Internal grand jury proceedings are usually kept secret, but a court ordered the recordings to be released to the annoyance of the citizens of Louisville and millions of people in the United States and other countries. The material released does not include the deliberations of the members of the grand jury, nor the recommendations or statements of the prosecutors because, according to Cameron, they were not recorded.
On the night of the events, police officers arrived at Taylor's apartment around midnight with a search warrant for narcotics. The order did not stipulate the need for officers to identify themselves before entering the residence. Taylor and her boyfriend slept inside.
A few minutes later, Taylor was hit by five projectiles.
Although the order allowed them to enter unannounced, the officers chose to identify themselves “to give them the opportunity to open the door,” said Lt. Shawn Hoover. Detective Myles Cosgrove added that officers were told to “use their maturity to get into the home.”
Hoover said the officers identified themselves as members of the police and knocked on the door three times. He estimated that they waited 45 seconds to a minute before breaking in.
Another officer said they waited almost two minutes before entering.
Walker noted that he heard a knock on the door, but that the officers did not respond to his calls to identify themselves. Walker told police he grabbed his pistol and, along with Taylor, they approached the door.
“By now she (Taylor) is screaming, and so am I, but no one answered. There was no answer. Nothing, ”Walker said.
Officers said they hit the door with a battering ram three times before finally breaking it. Detective Michael Nobles said the officers created so much noise that the neighbor in the upper apartment came out to see what was happening.
Walker, who said he thought intruders were trying to enter the residence, once shot and struck Detective Jonathan Mattingly in the leg as soon as he tried to enter.
Mattingly said in excerpts from his testimony that they were released to the public that he fired his regulation weapon while falling to the ground from the wound.
Cosgrove walked in and saw Mattingly on the floor. During his interview he noted that the situation had become confusing and that he thought he had fired four times or less, but evidence revealed that he discharged 16 rounds, including the projectile that killed Taylor.
Officer Brett Hankinson, who was fired, told investigators that he saw flashes of a firearm firing inside the apartment and thought his co-workers were in trouble, so he started shooting. Then he moved to a window and continued shooting; in total he shot 10 times.
Hankinson was the only officer charged by the grand jury, one count of reckless negligence, for shooting into a residence inhabited by people. Hankinson has pleaded not guilty.
“What I saw at that moment was a figure in a posture to shoot, and it looked like it was holding an AR-15 (rifle) or a long gun,” Hankinson said.
Walker was holding a pistol and was licensed to possess the firearm. He said he and Taylor both fell to the ground when officers began shooting. He said he saw that Taylor was bleeding and called 9-1-1, his mom and Taylor's mom.
Hoover noted that he believed Walker and Taylor ambushed them. “They knew we were at the door. Even the neighbors knew we were there ”, stressed the lieutenant.
Interviews with neighbors, however, did not provide clarity of what happened. Two neighbors said they did not hear the police knocking on the door. One said he was sure he did not hear them identify themselves. A third neighbor offered three different versions – in two of them he indicated that he heard the officers identify themselves.
After the shooting, officers concentrated on helping Mattingly and no one else tried to enter the residence, even while Taylor was on the floor, injured and bleeding, until a group of SWAT officers finally entered the apartment.
Initially, Walker said it was Taylor who fired the firearm, but then he said it was he who fired the shot.
Another officer stated that no drugs were found in the apartment, but that the police ultimately did not execute the search warrant.