Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Recording Released: Live Updates

The audio offers a rare glimpse of the process, but does not include prosecutors’ instructions.

An audio recording of the grand jury inquiry into the killing of Breonna Taylor was made public on Friday, a rare disclosure that shed light on the evidence jurors considered in the proceedings.

The recordings, which run about 15 hours long, were filed in court by the Kentucky attorney general, Daniel Cameron, and The New York Times is in the process of reviewing the audio, which captured interviews with witnesses, audio of 911 calls and other evidence presented to jurors over two and a half days.

The audio files do not include statements or recommendations from prosecutors about which charges they think should be brought against the officers. Mr. Cameron has said that jurors were told that the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor were justified in their actions. Ultimately, the jurors indicted a former officer last week on three charges of endangering Ms. Taylor’s neighbors by firing into their home during a raid of her apartment in March, but did not charge either of the officers who shot her.

“As is customary in the recording of Grand Jury proceedings, juror deliberations and prosecutor recommendations and statements were not recorded, as they are not evidence,” Mr. Cameron said in a statement. He has insisted that the 12 jurors were given “all of the evidence” and were free to pursue additional charges.

His release of the audiotapes came after a grand juror filed a court motion asking for the proceedings to be made public and accusing Mr. Cameron of using the jurors to deflect blame over the decision.

Grand jurors are given broad powers to request evidence, call witnesses and determine which charges to pursue, but prosecutors often closely guide the jurors, presenting them with certain charges and telling them about their own roles. The process almost always remains secret.

After meeting in person, grand jurors indicted Brett Hankison, a former detective, on three counts of “wanton endangerment” last week, saying Mr. Hankison had recklessly fired his gun during the raid after Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend — who has said he thought intruders were entering the apartment — shot an officer in the leg.

Mr. Hankison’s rounds did not hit anyone, investigators have said, but some of them flew into an apartment behind Ms. Taylor’s, leading to the three charges. Mr. Hankison has pleaded not guilty.

The Times has a team of reporters listening to the recordings. We will be providing updates here.

An officer who shot Ms. Taylor described a chaotic scene.

Detective Myles Cosgrove, who the F.B.I. said fired the shot that killed Ms. Taylor, described a disorienting scene of flashing lights as officers breached the door and seemed to suggest uncertainty about exactly what happened.

“I know that I have fired,” he said during an interview he gave police investigators last month that was played for the grand jury. “I just sensed that I’ve fired.”

But, he added, “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 do something, I’d probably believe you, too.”

As soon as he got to the doorway, Detective Cosgrove said, he was “overwhelmed with bright flashes and darkness. And what I describe as a movie reel that’s doing that ticking where you see white and black, white and black.”

Detective Cosgrove said that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot in the leg during the raid, fell to the ground and that he had to step over his wounded colleague.

“I know John, my friend that I’ve known for 15 years, has been shot in this confined space,” Detective Cosgrove said. “And I know this person is down and I sense that there’s still these gunshots happening due to those bright lights. I can’t even explain what it is.”

Detective Cosgrove said he also saw a shadow of a person, a “larger than normal human shadow,” when they raided the apartment and he saw flashing lights.

Jurors raised questions about some of the evidence.

The first witness was an investigator for the Attorney General’s office, who presented photos and videos of the scene, including the body camera videos of three officers who arrived after the shots were fired. The questioning was led by Barbara Maines Whaley, an assistant attorney general.

Grand jurors asked whether Kenneth Walker, Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, had been named in the search warrant (he had not), what exactly the officers saw when the apartment door opened, and whether the officers executing the warrant were aware that the police had already found Jamarcus Glover, who was the target of an illegal drug investigation.

Mr. Glover was Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, and he was in custody by the time they raided her apartment. At times, the jurors’ questions suggested they were skeptical of what they were being shown: one asked about the time stamps on the video. Another asked why they had not seen the room where the gun was found; the investigator said that would be shown in a different video.

Officers said the police knocked and announced themselves before the raid.

Grand jurors heard at least two Louisville police officers who were at the raid on Ms. Taylor’s apartment say the group knocked and announced their presence several times before breaking down the door, according to a recording of the proceedings released on Friday.

Those accounts, which have been questioned by several of Ms. Taylor’s neighbors and her boyfriend, were included among roughly 15 hours of audio filed by the attorney general on Friday, which includes interviews heard by the grand jury over several days last week.

Detective Cosgrove, one of the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor, said that a neighbor came outside and got into an argument with Brett Hankison, a former officer who fired his weapon during the raid and whom the grand jury indicted for endangering Ms. Taylor’s neighbors.

The unidentified neighbor yelled at them, “something about leave her alone, there was some girl there,” Detective Cosgrove said in an interview with police investigators last month that was played for the grand jury.

He said officers were outside knocking for 90 seconds, and that the volume escalated from “gentle knocking” to “forceful pounding” to pounding while yelling “police.”

Another officer at the raid, Detective Michael Nobles, told police investigators he heard movement and voices, including a female voice, inside the apartment before the police entered.

Detective Nobles, who held the battering ram that broke through Ms. Taylor’s door, said he stood at the door, knocking and announcing himself as police for one or two minutes before he used the battering ram to force his way into Ms. Taylor’s apartment. His interview was also played for grand jurors. He said it took three knocks with the battering ram to break down the door completely.

The first blow hit the handle, he said. The second broke the door, but left it still on the hinges. The third broke down the door completely.

When he entered, Mr. Nobles said it was “pitch black,” and that Sgt. John Mattingly, one of the officers who shot Ms. Taylor, was quickly shot in the leg after the team entered the building.

In previous interviews with The Times, 11 of 12 of Ms. Taylor’s neighbors said they never heard the police identify themselves. One neighbor said he heard the group say “Police,” just once.

The detective who was indicted appeared to think someone in the apartment had a semiautomatic weapon.

Grand jurors were played recordings of radio calls from Mr. Hankison, the detective who fired blindly from outside the apartment and has been charged with wanton endangerment, as well as 911 calls that came in after the shooting began.

“Officer down on Springfield!” Mr. Hankison shouted into the radio at 12:43 a.m.

The calls suggest that Mr. Hankison, who was fired after the shooting for violating department procedure, believed that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly had been wounded by someone with an “A.R.” who was “barricaded” inside the apartment.

Mr. Hankison’s reference to an “A.R.” on the call appears to be a reference to either an assault rile or the AR-15, a type of a military-style semiautomatic rifle.

In fact, investigators later said, Sergeant Mattingly was struck by a 9-millimeter round fired by Kenneth Walker, Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, who has said he mistook the officers for intruders.

One officer was charged with ‘wanton endangerment.’ Here’s what that means.

The only charges brought by the grand jury were three counts of “wanton endangerment in the first degree” against Mr. Hankison for his actions during the raid.

Under Kentucky law, a person commits that crime when he or she “wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person,” and does so “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Other states may use terms like “reckless endangerment” for an equivalent offense.

But the charges against Mr. Hankison are not for killing Ms. Taylor. None of the 10 shots he fired are known to have struck her. Instead, the Kentucky attorney general said the former detective was charged by the grand jury because the shots he fired had passed through Ms. Taylor’s apartment walls into a neighboring apartment, endangering three people there.

Mr. Hankison is charged with one count for each of the neighboring apartment’s occupants: a pregnant woman, her husband and their 5-year-old child, who were asleep. They were not hit by the shots.

The crime is a Class D felony in Kentucky, which means it can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine on conviction for each count.

A person can be guilty of wanton endangerment even if they did not intend to harm anyone or to commit a crime; it is sufficient to recklessly disregard the peril that one’s actions create.

Mr. Hankison was fired from the force. During the raid, he fired into her apartment from outside, through a sliding glass patio door and a window that were covered with blinds, in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight.

Protesters have demanded justice in the Breonna Taylor case for months.

The name Breonna Taylor has echoed across the nation for months as demonstrators demanded the police be held accountable for her death.

Outrage over the killing of Ms. Taylor, 26, has spread far from Louisville, with protests drawing crowds in cities across the United States, beginning in the spring and continuing throughout the summer. Rallying cries of “Say Her Name” have been ubiquitous at the rallies.

The police killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer’s knee, brought renewed attention to deadly episodes involving the police, including Ms. Taylor’s death, and fueled Black Lives Matter protests that persisted throughout the summer.

In September, when the grand jury announced no charges against the officers who killed Ms. Taylor, protesters poured into the streets of Louisville with renewed strength and anger, demanding stronger charges. The protesters called for all three officers, who are white, to be held to account for Ms. Taylor’s death.

Ms. Taylor’s family, too, has pleaded for justice, pushing for criminal charges against the officers. Ms. Taylor’s case has also been the center of campaigns from several celebrities and athletes, some of whom have dedicated their seasons to keeping a spotlight on her case.

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Shaila Dewan, John Eligon, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Will Wright.

Source link

Leave a Comment