Grand jury audio details moments before Breonna Taylor died

After a delay earlier this week, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office released hours' worth of grand jury records from the Breonna Taylor investigation.


After a delay earlier this week, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office released hours' worth of grand jury records from the Breonna Taylor investigation.

Friday's release comes as the attorney general continues to face scrutiny from the public and advocates for Taylor, and her family questions the process of the probe.

It also comes after one of the grand jurors filed a motion in court calling for the full release of the transcripts and investigative materials to get out "the full story and absolute truth of how this matter was handled."

Police said they knocked repeatedly and identified themselves for a minute or more before using a battering ram to enter Taylor's apartment, according to the grand jury recordings released Friday, then killed her in a rapid hail of gunfire after the first officer inside her door was struck by a bullet.

But Taylor's boyfriend, who fired on the officers, said in an police interview played for the jury that he did not hear them announce themselves. If they had, he noted, “it changes the whole situation because there’s nothing for us to be scared of.”

The dueling accounts of the March 13 raid in which Louisville police killed the 26-year-old Black woman were contained in hours of recordings made public in a rare release for proceedings that are typically kept secret. The grand jury did not charge the officers with Taylor's killing.

Cameron defended his actions in the probe during a Fox News segment Thursday.

Cameron's office investigated Taylor's death for several months and a week ago, after days of meeting, the grand jury delivered its report. It was announced that Hankison, one of three officers who fired shots that night, would be the sole officer to face charges.

The grand jury was not asked to consider any other charges, including any against the two other officers involved, Sgt. John Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove.

Cameron said in a statement Tuesday it is because his investigation found that evidence supported that the two were justified in shooting since Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired first.

This means the grand jury did not decide for or against charges on those officers — Cameron's office did.

There has been public outcry for more transparency about what the grand jury was actually presented with to come to its conclusion.

Cameron asserted Tuesday, when he agreed to comply with the judge's order, that he is confident the public will see a thorough case was presented.

Louisville police Lt. Shawn Hoover said officers with a narcotics warrant approached Taylor’s apartment door and announced themselves as police and knocked three times.

“We knocked on the door, said ‘police,’ waited I don’t know 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said police, waited even longer,” Hoover said in an interview recorded the same day Taylor was shot, and 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,” Hoover said. “And then I said, `Let’s go, let’s breach it.’”

Another officer said they waited as much as two minutes. Whether or not officers announced themselves has been a key issue in the case because Walker said he only fired at police because he feared they were intruders.

Police said they used a battering ram to enter the apartment, hitting the door three times before getting inside. Detective Michael Nobles said officers made so much noise that an upstairs neighbor came outside and had to be told to go back inside.

According to the grand jury recordings, Det. Jonathan Mattingly got shot as soon as he leaned inside the apartment.

Mattingly said in testimony, some of which was previously released, that he fired four gunshots as he fell on his backside. Officer Brett Hankison said in a recorded police interview that moments after the doors was broken down he saw darkness and then “immediate illumination from fire.”

“What I saw at the time was a figure in a shooting stance and it looked as if he was holding, he or she was holding, an AR-15 or a long gun, a rifle,” said Hankison, who was later indicted by the grand jury on charges of wanton endangerment for firing shots that went into another home with people inside.

Walker was, in fact, using a handgun.

“We didn’t know who it was,” Walker said in his own police interview shortly after the shooting. “If we knew who it was, that would have never happened.”

Hoover said he believed Walker and Taylor were lying in wait for the officers.

“We were, in my opinion, we were ambushed,” Hoover said. “They knew we were there. I mean, hell, the neighbors knew we were there.”

About five minutes after the gunfire erupted and Taylor was shot, her boyfriend dialed 911.

According to audio of the call played for the grand jury, Walker told a dispatcher: “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”

Walker seemed confused when police interviewed him later. He said he didn’t know why police would knock on Taylor’s door.

Officers had a “no-knock" warrant to search Taylor's apartment for drugs. But Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has also said officers announced themselves.

One law enforcement officer testified that police ultimately never executed the warrant to search Taylor’s apartment.

“Were drugs money or paraphernalia recovered from apartment 4? ... The answer to that is no,” said Herman Hall, an investigator for the state attorney general’s office. “They didn’t go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.