Story by Kristi Jones / Contributing Writer
Photos via Pexels
Last Friday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office released 15 hours of court tapes of the Breonna Taylor trials. Jefferson Circuit Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered the release.
The 15 hours are from the grand jury trials that took place on September 21-23. They show how a drug raid that had no-risk going in went wrong and ended with 26-year-old emergency room tech Taylor dead.
Just under four minutes of the audio was redacted due to it being social security numbers, addresses and names of minors. An un-redacted copy was also created. The tapes raise questions and leave questions unanswered.
Cameron stated that it was quite unusual for a judge to require that the grand jury tapes be released to the public; however, the tapes were released so that the “full truth can be heard”.
In certain times of the tapes, listeners of the jury proceeding can not hear the conversations. This is due to some internal police investigation recordings and videos being played not loud enough to be picked up by the recorders. Juror’s questions were not always loud and clear enough to be picked up by the recorder as well.
During the drug raid, Cameron said that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove were in their right to shoot because they were fired upon first. Last week, the grand jury indicted former Det. Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment.
Wanton endangerment is a first-degree murder under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. The person then wantonly engages in conduct which creates danger of death to another person. The jury then begins to review Hankison’s account of what happened that day.
Hankison told police investigators that on March 23 as the officer arrived at Taylor’s apartment, he saw someone inside holding what he was “certain” was an AR-15. He believed that the other men with him were being “sprayed by bullets” after one officer was shot in the leg.
Hankison fired multiple bullets where “the threat” had been seen last. Cameron found out that Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired a 9mm pistol only one time.
There was no body cam of any of the officer’s actions or whereabouts. The details of how police went into the apartment are still fuzzy; whether they did or did not knock and state who they were. At least four of Taylor’s neighbors told investigators that they did not hear any knocking before entering the apartment. Then gunfire followed shortly after.
One witness said that he heard the police say who they were before the shooting quickly began. Cameron singled out the witness in a press conference saying that he was “corroborating” officer’s accounts. In a third interview with the man, Cameron’s investigators said that he heard police announce themselves but did not hear any knocking.
Taylor was a “soft target” which is a person, thing, or location that is easily accessible to the general public and relatively unprotected, making it vulnerable to harm. Cosgrove fired the bullet that ultimately killed Taylor.
Cosgrove testified that he does not recall most of the shooting. He described himself as being disoriented. He stated that he only saw “a shadowy figure” and had tunnel vision and saw vivid white flashes which he believed is to be when Mattingly was shot. He said that he did not have any recollection that he was firing a gun.
The warrant to enter the apartment was a no-knock warrant, but the officers decided to “let their presence be known” to give her time to tell any children that were in the house what was happening.
The full audio files of the tapes can be found here.
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