Audio recording of Breonna Taylor’s grand jury proceeding released


Naomi Bitton

@Denny_ow on Instagram

Naomi Bitton, News Editor

Close to 15 hours of recordings from Breonna Taylor’s closed-door grand jury proceeding, including witness interviews and other evidence, were released on Oct. 2. 

Jefferson Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered the release of a redacted audio copy, which is allowed under special circumstances. This is a step in offering a sense of public transparency to Taylor’s case, which has drawn national attention.

Though the death of Breonna Taylor took place on March 13, it was not until mid-May that the FBI announced they were opening an investigation into the events surrounding Taylor’s death.

None of the officers involved were charged or arrested until Sep. 23, when a grand jury indicted three wanton endangerment charges against Officer Brett Hankison, who reportedly shot 10 aimless rounds into the apartment. 

In the audio, it can be heard that Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he got no response after him and Taylor heard pounding at the front door and yelled, asking who was there. Walker said that he feared it was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend attempting to break into the apartment.

The Louisville officers involved, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankinson and Myles Cosgrove, insisted that they identified themselves before using a battering ram to enter the apartment. Once the police broke the door off its hinges, Walker fired his gun in self-defense, which hit Sergeant Mattingly in the leg.

After Mattingly was shot and down, the other two officers began to fire a total of 32 shots in return. Walker’s recorded call to 911, which happened around five minutes after the shooting, includes him telling an emergency responder “I don’t know what’s happening…someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.” 

The police’s incident report from the night contained several errors, such as listing Taylor’s injuries as “none” and omitting their use of force for entry.

Taylor also received no medical attention for over 20 minutes, though the Jefferson County coroner later stated that Taylor likely died less than a minute after being shot.

Prosecutors stated that all charges have been currently dropped against Walker until the investigation concludes, including a charge for the attempted murder of a police officer.

In an interview played for the jurors, Detective Cosgrove described being disoriented and uncertain of what exactly took place. He stated that he was overwhelmed with quick black and white flashing lights, adding, “I just sensed that I’ve fired. It’s 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 do something, I’d probably believe you, too.”

Hankinson stated in a March 25 interview that he had not expected a firefight, but rather to execute a search warrant at the home of a sole unarmed woman with no criminal record. 

According to the New York Times, Hankinson fired into the glass patio door and window of Taylor’s apartment which were both covered with blinds, thus acting in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight. Additionally, Hankinson fired bullets that penetrated a wall and entered a neighboring apartment. Hankinson is the only officer dismissed from the police force after the incident, as the other two officers involved are placed on administrative reassignment.

The search warrant that Hankinson spoke of was granted after police had been investigating two men believed to be selling drugs from their home and sending packages of product to Taylor’s apartment.

According to Taylor’s family lawyer, Sam Aguiar, police believed that Taylor was linked to one of the potential sellers, as she had dated him on and off for several years.

The suspect and Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, was later arrested on Aug. 27 in possession of drugs. He stated in an interview that Taylor had no involvement in the drug trade whatsoever, and accused the police of “trying to make it out to be my fault…making it look like I brought this to Breonna’s door.”

Aguiar who represents Taylor’s family said, “It seems to me like they’re just trying to cover their tracks from day one…they keep saying things that conflict with former things…and it’s why getting the truth in this case is so important.”

As Taylor’s family continues to fight for justice, multiple changes have been implemented due to this incident: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer indefinitely suspended the use of no-knock warrants, a new chief of the Louisville police department was appointed, body cameras are now required to be worn during search warrants and a civilian review board was instituted to review police disciplinary records.