Kentucky state attorney general Daniel Cameron released audio recordings of the grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case. A judge had given him until noon Friday to publicly file in court the recordings that would give clarity to unanswered questions that rose when he announced that the grand jury had chosen not to charge the three officers involved with killing the 26-year old EMT in a botched drug raid on her home on March 13.
“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 about an hour after the recording were released. "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.”
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Taylor, 26, was in her Louisville apartment with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when the officers, Det. Brett Hankison, Det. Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly burst into her apartment on a no-knock warrant, looking for a drug suspect. Walker, according to court documents, opened fire, striking Mattingly once, although he maintained that it was because he thought they were intruders and had not heard a warning prior to their intrusion. The officers also opened fire, striking Taylor five times.
The actual suspect they were looking for Jamarcus Glover, had already been taken into custody.
After a four-month investigation, Cameron announced last week that Hankison, who was fired in June for his role in the shooting, would only be charged with wanton endangerment since his bullets went into a neighboring apartment based on the grand jury’s assessment.
Among the details revealed in the recordings, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal are:
• An investigator with the Kentucky attorney general’s office testified that the officers had a “no knock” warrant, but decided to serve it as a “knock and announce.” However Walker has said that he never heard the officers announce themselves. At least 10 of Taylor’s neighbors also testified that they never heard police announce themselves either.
• Det. Michael Nobles, one of the additional officers at the scene said in an internal investigation interview that was played to the grand jury that he knocked on the door for two minutes saying “police” before the decision was made to break in. The thought was that there was a small child inside. When they broke in, the room was dark and that’s when Mattingly took a bullet to the leg.
• In one clip of the recording, an attorney general’s office detective talks about an interview he conducted with one of Taylor’s then-neighbors, identified as Summer Dickinson. He said that she told him she heard the shooting and called 911. She then spots an officer at the scene asks him what happens. The officer tells her “some drug-dealing girl shot at the police.”
The recordings were released at 11:40 ET Friday morning, according to the Courier-Journal and are split into 14 audio files that show which witnesses provided testimony to the grand jury that led to the decision not to charge the officers. Written transcripts have yet to be released.
Some of the other pieces of the recordings reveal that Cameron’s office said that the officers were acting “in good faith” believing that they would be apprehending Glover, Taylor and Adrian Walker (no relation to Kenneth Walker), all of whom were named on the warrant. Glover was the intended suspect of the drug investigation that directed police to Taylor’s apartment. She and Glover had once dated. No drugs were found on the premises.
“We focused the investigation that we’re presenting – there’s other issues relating to the warrants that we’re not getting too much in here – but the officers were executing a valid search warrant,” said Jeff Fogg, an investigator with Cameron’s office, in his testimony. “The officers that served this warrant were acting in good faith.”
Also, Detective Tony James, according to the recordings told Cameron’s office in a September interview that he had a body camera issued to him, but it did not work.
“It did not activate,” he told the investigators. “I did it in the car, but it did not, I did not know that it did not activate. But it was rigged up and ready to go.”
Cameron had asked for a week to redact sensitive personal information from the recordings, but the judge gave him only two days. Now that more than 20 hours of recordings have been made public including what the witnesses who testified saw the night of the incident at Taylor’s apartment, the public will have a better understanding of why Cameron didn’t push for homicide as one of the potential charges against the officers.
Cameron said last week that the officers actions were justified because of self-defense laws in Kentucky that allowed for them to shoot during the raid. But one grand juror, who remains anonymous, filed a motion to not only have the grand jury recordings released, but to allow the jurors to speak publicly. Grand jury hearings are typically kept private.
"The full story and absolute truth of how this matter was handled from beginning to end is now an issue of great public interest and has become a large part of the discussion of public trust throughout the country," Kevin Glogower, the attorney for the juror, wrote in the court filing.
This story has been updated from an earlier version.
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