Kenneth Walker will no longer face charges of attempted murder and assault for attempting to defend his girlfriend Breonna Taylor after police raided their apartment on March 13, the commonwealth attorney for Jefferson County, Kentucky, Tom Wine, announced at a news conference Friday. However, he could still face other charges.
According to The Courier Journal, Wine's office will move to dismiss the case against Walker, who was charged after he fired one shot out of Taylor's apartment, striking a police officer. Those same officers — Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — ended up firing eight shots at Taylor and killing her after mistakenly assuming she was an accomplice to a local narcotics dealer.
Walker's attorney has said he thought they were being robbed and he did not know the intruders were police officers serving a search warrant. The officers had a "no knock" warrant, meaning they weren't obligated to knock or announce themselves before entering Taylor's home.
The Courier Journal reported Thursday (May 21) that a Louisville police sergeant who obtained the indictment of Walker didn't inform the grand jury that Walker had told police he didn't know it was the police who were trying to get into the apartment. Kentucky has a "Stand Your Ground" law that gives residents the authority to use deadly force against intruders they believe are unlawfully entering their residence.
A recording of Sgt. Amanda Seelye's grand jury testimony, obtained by The Courier Journal, also shows she didn't tell the grand jurors that Taylor was shot and killed in police officers' return fire.
"It's very possible there was no criminal activity on either side of that door because people couldn't hear what the other party was saying," Wine said. "I believe that additional investigation is necessary."
Wine acknowledged that a grand jury should have seen more information before deciding to indict Walker. Wine did, however, leave the door open for bringing new charges against Walker.
According to the Courier Journal, he says if there is “sufficient evidence to go back to a grand jury, prosecutors will do so. Walker will also be given the opportunity to testify, should he choose to do so.”
Rob Eggert, Walker's attorney, moved for a dismissal of the charges on the grounds that prosecutors "woefully misled" the grand jury to get the indictment.
"The picture presented to the grand jury completely mischaracterizes the events that took place at Ms. Taylor's apartment and resulted in Ms. Taylor's death," Eggert said.
Taylor's family members and their attorneys have also called for charges against Walker to be dropped. "Don't African Americans have the right to the Second Amendment?" attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Taylor's family, asked last week. "He was trying to protect Breonna. He was trying to protect himself."
On Friday (May 22), Crump, along with co-counsels Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, released the following statement in response to the dismissed charges against Kenneth Walker:
“Today, Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine announced that the charges against Kenneth Walker have been dismissed -- charges that never should have been filed. This is a belated victory for justice and a powerful testament to the power of advocacy.
“Kenneth Walker and Breonna Taylor did everything right the night police ambushed their home, killing Breonna. Kenneth called 911, although the Commonwealth Attorney did not play it today. They asked several times who was at the front door without a response. Kenneth fired a non-lethal warning shot from a legally registered gun. Unlike the police, he did not shoot to kill.
“While dismissing the charges is the right thing to do, it comes more than two months after Breonna was killed and Kenneth was arrested. Louisville police spent these months defending their actions and smearing Kenneth’s and Breonna’s good names. This is just another step to the LMPD taking full responsibility for its actions.
“They need to get their story straight. First, they publicized that they knocked and announced. But then they stated they had a no-knock warrant that did not require them to knock and announce. And then today, the prosecutor said on a dry erase board that it was a knock and announce warrant. And they want the public to have faith that they can trust the police in the execution of this warrant. Until everyone involved is held accountable and the full truth of what happened that night is revealed, justice for Kenneth and Breonna is incomplete.
“To everyone who stood with Bre, thank you and continue to raise your voice for justice and for the value of Black lives.”
None of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death have been arrested or charged. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) have jointly called for the U.S. Department of Justice to open a civil rights probe into Taylor's death.