Breonna Taylor grand jury recordings reveal chilling scene of chaos and misinformation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — We now know what the grand jury was told about the night Breonna Taylor died.

Fifteen hours of audiotaped recordings, filed shortly before noon Friday by order of a judge, detail a chilling scene of false assumptions, chaos and massive gunfire that one neighbor likened to the “O.K. Corral.”

The recordings show Louisville Metro Police’s attempted drug raid in the early morning hours of March 13 quickly spun out of control when officers broke into Taylor’s apartment door and were met by a gunshot fired by her scared boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

Startled police unleashed two volleys of gunfire in response, with one officer fearing they had walked into an ambush, and a detective outside saying he saw muzzle flashes through the curtains and blinds “lighting up the room” and fired at them, not realizing they were his own officers.

Within minutes, it was over.

Taylor, who was unarmed, was dead in her hallway, shot six times by police.

A team of Courier Journal reporters sifted through 14 audio files containing 15 hours of testimony to piece together the case prosecutors presented to jurors, resulting in an indictment against former Detective Brett Hankison.

But no criminal charges were filed against the two officers whose bullets struck and killed Taylor — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove.

Three Louisville Metro Police Department officers fired their guns into Breonna Taylor’s apartment: Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove.
Related:Listen to the recordings from Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings

The prosecutors took that decision out of the grand jury’s hands, deciding Kentucky’s liberal self-defense laws justified the officers’ actions because Walker fired at them first.

Among the startling revelations the grand jurors learned:

No master plan existed for the search other than what was written on a whiteboard, according to Detective Herman Hall, of the attorney general’s office.
Another detective from the office said the warrant was executed as a “knock-and-announce.” Neighbors dispute that, with all but one saying they never heard anyone shout, “Police.”

Hankison, fired in June for firing blindly into Taylor’s apartment, said in radio communications that a subject was “barricading” inside the apartment with a rifle that “looks like AR.” In fact, Taylor’s boyfriend, Walker, had a Glock 9 mm handgun that he fired once, and he surrendered without incident.
Neighbor Jack Schuler said there were so many gunshots it sounded like he was at the “O.K. Corral,” according to Hall.

Another neighbor, Elaine Williams, said when she opened the door to her apartment, she heard an officer say, “Reload, reload. Let’s do what we got to do,” Hall said in summarizing his interviews with at least 15 residents.

A woman who called 911 and lived nearby told investigators an officer on-scene told her in a recorded Facebook Live video that “some drug-dealing girl shot at the police.” She asked if he was sure and he reiterated: “Some drug-dealing girl shot an officer.” Taylor hadn’t shot anyone, and she had no drug history.
Cosgrove, who the FBI concluded fired the fatal shot, described a loss of senses, like he was in a “cave of complete, utter silence.”
Cameron, who received a two-day delay in releasing the recordings in order to redact private information, noted in a statement the redactions comprised 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

“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 the statement.

He added that juror deliberations and prosecutor recommendations were not recorded, “as they are not evidence,” which he said is standard in grand jury proceedings.

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