On Friday, an audio was released to the grand jury that gave a glimpse into the confusion that happened throughout the final moments of Breonna Taylor’s life.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT and an aspiring nurse was in her bedroom with her boyfriend when the officers of Lousiville Metro Police Department unleashed a 32 round hail of return fire that killed her. This incident set off months of unrest in US cities, especially in Louisville.
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In a statement given by Kenneth Walker III, her boyfriend, when the police officers arrived just after midnight, they were in plain clothes. Walker and his lawyer maintained that they didn’t know who was entering their apartment on that very night and that Walker fired once, which hit one of the officer’s leg.
According to the investigators, they were told by the police officers executing a narcotics warrant that they announced themselves before forcing themselves into the apartment. It was later found that the officers used a battering ram to bash the door off its hinges, which started that chaotic night at Taylor’s apartment.
Here are some of the highlights of what happened on that night, according to the accounts of both parties, investigators, and witnesses on the scene.
The police officers had no official plan.
An investigator with the state attorney general’s office, Det. Herman Hall announced to the grand jury that he does not know of any official plan from the botched raid officers.
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Some of the officers who were involved in this incident were Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Det. Myles Cosgrove, Det. Brett Hankison,
According to a juror, Mattingly told the investigators that they had a formal plan when they went into Breonna Taylor’s apartment. Each of them had specific roles in executing a number of search warrants on that very night.
In connection with this, the juror asked if anyone had seen a formal plan to back up Mattingly’s claim, the Det. Hall said he hadn’t seen any proper plan. In addition to this, Hall said, the only plan that he saw was a whiteboard with addresses and locations to be raided, together with the names of the officers involved in each raid.
A photo of the whiteboard was shown to the juror, and Hall pointed out that the address listed for Breonna Taylor was incorrect.
Hall repeated a question from the panel member, “Were drugs, money, or paraphernalia recovered?”
To quote, he said, “The answer to that is no. They did not go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”
In a recording played for the grand jury, Hankinson told investigators that he was not supposed to work that night. He was not even part of the drug investigation and said that he instead handles narcotics detection dogs.
He continued that he only volunteered for the assignment and that the dog was left in the patrol car when the raid happened.
Hankinson further said that they were briefed minimally on the location before the raid since it was considered a soft target, and Breonna Taylor was not considered a threat.
To quote, Hankinson said, “We were all kind of the older guys who were put with it because this was going to be the easy location.”
The police officers said they announced their presence.
In a recorded interview, Mattingly said, they banged on the door, but there’s no response, they knocked the door again, there’s no response. He further stated that at that point, they started announcing themselves and that they intended to give Taylor plenty of time to come to get to the door.
After banging the door six to seven times, Mattingly said that it was when they decided to enter the apartment by force and used a battering ram to knock the door off its hinges.
However, Walker’s account was a different story. He told investigators that he never heard anyone even said “Polic” and that his and Taylor’s shouts as to “Who is it?” were met with silence instead.
Gunfires and Chaos
Mattingly was the first to lean inside. He said it was dark, and about 20 feet away, the officer said that the made out a man and a woman and that the man stood in a stretched out position with his hand on a gun.
Mattingly said, as soon as he cleared the doorway, the man fired a gun. He said that as soon as the shot hit, he could feel the heat in his leg, so he returned fire.
Lt. Shawn Hoover recalled Mattingly saying, “I’ve been hit!” Colleagues then dragged Mattingly, wounded and bleeding from his thigh, out to a parking lot.
Moments after Mattingly stepped into the apartment, Cosgrove told investigators that he saw blinding, vivid, white flashes and saw blackness at the same time.
Cosgrove said, “Everything was completely muted. There was no sound.”
He added that he was sure that he had fired or was firing during those vivid white flashes. Cosgrove also told investigators that he could no longer account for how many times he pulled the trigger that night.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron told reporters that Cosgrove almost fired 16 rounds of bullets that night. In addition to this, the attorney general also said that the FBI ballistic tests determined that a bullet from Cosgrove’s gun is the one that killed Taylor.
Hankinson, on the other hand, allegedly blindly fired ten rounds of bullets into Taylor’s apartment through the covered patio door and window. This prevented him from assessing any threat that can be posed to the occupants before opening fire. Some rounds even penetrated a neighboring apartment, which endangered the lives of three people.
In the recording played for the grand jury, Hankinson sounded emotional as he talked about Mattingly getting shot. He said all he could hear was the firing and that he saw the flashing. At that moment, he believed that his colleagues were “being executed” as they rushed inside to help the wounded officer. As the gunfire intensified, Hankinson said that he thought that the police officers were all getting sprayed with bullets and that his only option was to return fire.
Walker Dialled Distress Call to 911
Walker dialed 911 on his cell phone, and the dispatcher said he sounded distraught. He told the dispatcher that someone kicked their door and shot his girlfriend. As the dispatcher asked him questions, Walker is heard calling his girlfriend’s nickname “Bre” repeatedly and pleading for help.
The police officers who came to the scene found Breonna Taylor on the ground laying beside Walker, bleeding profusely. Later on, an investigator for the attorney general said that Taylor had five gunshot wounds, one to the left upper breast that killed her.