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breonna taylor wrongful death


In a rare disclosure, recordings from the grand jury investigation into the Breonna Taylor police shooting case have been released.

Some 15 hours of audio were made public on October 2, following a lawsuit.

The recent decision not to charge any officers for Breonna Taylor’s killing on March 13 renewed outcry over racial inequities.

Unrest gripped Breonna Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky for days afterward.

With roughly 15 hours of audio released, not all the details have yet been reviewed.

However, early reviews of the tapes reveal testimony from at least two Louisville police officers who said that they knocked several times and announced themselves as police before entering Breonna Taylor’s apartment.

“We knocked on the door, said ‘police’, waited I don’t know 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said ‘police’, waited even longer,” said Louisville police lieutenant Shawn Hoover in an interview recorded on the day Breonna Taylor was shot, later played for the grand jury.

“So it was the third time that we were approaching, it had been like 45 seconds if not a minute,” Shawn Hoover said.

“And then I said, ‘Let’s go, let’s breach it.'”

The officers were so loud, one testified, that a neighbor came outside saying something like “Leave that girl alone,” Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly said.

Whether or not the officers announced themselves before entering has been questioned by Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, and a number of her neighbors.

Kenneth Walker, who fired at police, said he did so in self-defense, believing the officers to be intruders.

In a police interview played for the grand jury, Kenneth Walker said that they had not heard police identify themselves before they entered her apartment. If they had, “it changes the whole situation because there was nothing for us to be scared of,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

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Officer Myles Cosgrove – who the FBI said fired the shot that killed Breonna Taylor – described a chaotic scene to investigators, in which he was “overwhelmed with bright flashes and darkness”, and seemed confused by the precise order of events.

“I just sense that I’ve fired,” he said in a recording, according to the New York Times.

“It’s like a surreal thing. If you told me I didn’t do something at that time, I’d believe you. If you told me I did so something, I’d probably believe you, too.”

When police entered the apartment, they encountered a figure who looked as if he or she was holding some type of long gun, said officer Brett Hankinson in a recorded police interview.

Brett Hankinson has since been charged with wanton endangerment for firing shots into an adjoining apartment.

However, Kenneth Walker was holding a handgun, not a long gun.

He told investigators he was “scared to death” when he heard banging on the apartment door, the New York Times said. He said he fired one shot from his gun before he could see who was at the door.

“All of a sudden there’s a whole lot of shots,” he said.

“Next thing I know, she’s [Breonna’s] on the ground… And she’s right here bleeding. And nobody’s coming and I’m just confused and scared.”

Grand jury deliberations and prosecutor recommendations were not recorded, and so were not included in the released material.

The death of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical worker, during a police raid in March has been a high-profile case, prompting protests against police misconduct and racial inequality.

Breonna Taylor was shot dead at age 26 when officers Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove stormed her Louisville home. They were executing a search warrant as part of a drugs investigation.

Last week, Brett Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment, but no-one was charged in connection with Ms Taylor’s death.

The decision not to charge any officer with murder or manslaughter has led to repeated Black Lives Matter protests in Louisville and elsewhere.

It also prompted questions over the handling of the case by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, with critics calling for greater transparency.


The city of Louisville, Kentucky, has agreed to pay $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was killed in her home by police.

Breonna Taylor was 26 when she was shot at least five times on 13 March during a mistaken drugs raid.

The black woman’s name has featured prominently in anti-racism protests in recent months.

Lonita Baker, a lawyer for Breonna Taylor’s family, called the settlement just one “layer” in the effort to seek justice, and praised new police reforms.

“Justice for Breonna is multi-layered,” she said at a press conference on September 15 alongside Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

She called the agreement “tremendous, but only a portion” of what the family hopes for, including the arrest of the officers involved in her death.

“Today what we did here was to do what we could do to bring a little bit of police reform and it’s just a start,” continued Leonita Baker.

“But we finished the first mile in the marathon and we’ve got a lot more miles to go to until we achieve and cross that finish line.”

The settlement includes a series of police reforms in Louisville, including a requirement that all search warrants be approved by a senior officer and giving a housing credit to officers who move to low income neighborhoods they patrol in the city.

In a short statement, Breonna Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer called for criminal charges against the officers and asked people to continue to say her daughter’s name publicly in advocacy for police reforms.

The settlement is the largest financial sum paid in a police misconduct case in Louisville’s history, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

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Breonna Taylor’s killing was propelled into the spotlight once again with the death George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May.

George Floyd’s death sparked global anti-racism protests and brought renewed focus on police brutality.

Shortly after midnight on March 13, three officers entered Breonna Taylor’s apartment by executing a no-knock search warrant – a court document that authorizes police to enter a home without warning.

Breonna Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker, were reportedly asleep as the commotion began.

The officers exchanged fire with Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner who called 911 in the belief that the drug raid was a burglary. The officers – who fired more than 25 bullets – said they returned fire after one officer was shot and wounded.

During the exchange, Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was shot eight times and later died.

No drugs were found on the property.

The lawsuit filed by Breonna Taylor’s family accuses the officers of battery, wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence. It also says the officers were not looking for her or her partner, but for an unrelated suspect who did not live in the complex.

Breonna Taylor’s family has also accused police of leading the raid as a plot to gentrify her neighborhood. Louisville’s mayor dismissed the allegation as “outrageous” and “without foundation or supporting facts”.

One of the officers involved in the raid, Brett Hankison, was fired in June. The other two – Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove – were placed on administrative leave.

Louisville’s police chief was also fired in June after a separate police shooting.

A grand jury could soon decide whether criminal charges should be filed against any of the officers.

Until Freedom, a social justice organization that has held rallies for Breonna Taylor, released a statement saying: “No amount of money will bring back Breonna Taylor.”

“True justice is not served with cash settlements,” the group added.

“We need those involved in her murder to be arrested and charged. We need accountability. We need justice.”

Earlier this year, Louisville’s city council voted unanimously in favor of banning no-knock warrants. Similar legislation that would ban the warrants nationwide was introduced in the Congress.