Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, and his lawyer have maintained that he didn’t know who was entering the Springfield Drive apartment and that he fired once. Kentucky’s top prosecutor said Walker’s round hit one of the officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, in the leg.
The officers unleashed a 32-round hail of return fire that killed Taylor and set off months of unrest in Louisville and other US cities.
A Kentucky grand jury last week did not indict any of the three officers directly involved in the raid on charges connected with Taylor’s death. One officer faces charges for firing into an adjacent occupied apartment.
Audio from the secret grand jury proceedings released on Friday offers a glimpse into the confusion that reigned during the final moments of Taylor’s life. Here are some highlights from the nearly 15 hours of recordings:
No official plan. No drugs.
Det. Herman Hall, an investigator with the state attorney general’s office, told the grand jury he knew of no official plan for the officers in the botched raid.
A juror said Mattingly told investigators that officers had a formal plan, with specific roles, for executing a number of search warrants that night.
The juror asked if anyone had seen a formal plan that would back up Mattingly’s account.
“No ma’am,” Hall replied. “I haven’t seen it.”
Hall told the panel the “only plan I have seen” was a whiteboard with addresses of locations to be raided and the names of officers involved in each.
Jurors can be heard murmuring that they had not seen the whiteboard. A photo of the board was shown to them. Hall pointed out that the address listed for Taylor was incorrect.
“Were drugs, money or paraphernalia recovered?” said Hall, repeating a question from a panel member.
“The answer to that is no. They did not go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”
Another officer, Det. Michael Nobles, told the grand jury on September 21 that police believed Taylor was home with a small child.
“That’s why we decided to knock — it was a no-knock warrant — but we wanted to give her time to, you know, warn the kids,” Nobles said.
Mattingly told investigators officers believed Taylor was “probably there alone.”
Officers say they knocked, announced presence
“Banged on the door. No response. Banged on it again. No response.”
That’s what Mattingly, in a recorded interview in March that was played for the grand jury, said happened in the first moments of the raid.
“At that point we started announcing ourselves,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly told investigators that “our intent was not to hit the door.” The officers, though, had a no-knock search warrant that would have allowed them to enter without announcing themselves as law enforcement.
“Our intent was to give her plenty of time to come to get to the door,” he said.
Nobles told investigators that he knocked on the door and announced police for one to two minutes. He said one officer could hear movement inside.
After banging on the door six or seven times, Mattingly said, the decision was made to enter by force. A battering ram was used.
Mattingly said it took three strikes to knock the door off its hinges.
CNN interviewed several of Taylor’s neighbors, either directly or through their attorney. Most said they were awakened by the gunfire and therefore did not hear what preceded it. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has said one witness told investigators the officers had announced themselves.
“She’s yelling at the top of her lungs — and I am too at this point — who is it?” Walker told investigators, according to the CNN review. “No answer. No response. No anything.”
As Walker and Taylor made their way down a hallway toward the front door, he said, the door flew off its hinges.
“So I just let off one shot,” he told investigators. “I still can’t see who it is or anything.”
‘I’ve been hit!’ wounded officer says
“Police. Search Warrant. Police. Search Warrant.”
Those were the words that Mattingly said officers yelled when they broke into the apartment, according to a recording of his interview with investigators that was played before the grand jury.
Mattingly was the first to lean inside. It was dark.
About 20 feet away the officer said he made out a man and a woman.
Mattingly told investigators the man stood in a “stretched-out position with his hand on a gun, and as soon as I clear (the doorway), he fires a gun.”
“As soon as the shot hit, I could feel the heat in my leg. So I returned fire,” he added.
“I’ve been hit!” Lt. Shawn Hoover recalled Mattingly saying, according to a recording of his March interview with investigators.
Colleagues dragged Mattingly, wounded and bleeding heavily from his thigh, out to a parking lot and used a belt as a tourniquet, Hoover said.
‘Dark, deep black and vivid white flashes’
Moments after Mattingly stepped into the apartment, Cosgrove told investigators, he saw “blinding, vivid, white light and I see blackness at the same time. Just dark, deep black and vivid white flashes.”
For a moment he could not hear.
“Everything was completely muted,” Cosgrove said. “There was no sound.”
He added, “I am positive that I had fired or was firing during those flashes, during that vivid white and black … colors I was seeing.”
Cosgrove told investigators he did not know how many times he pulled the trigger.
Cameron told reporters that Cosgrove fired 16 rounds that night.
CNN has reached out to Cosgrove’s attorney for comment.
The detective was one of three officers who fired their weapons. FBI ballistic tests determined a bullet from Cosgrove’s gun killed Taylor, according to the attorney general.
Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove’s shots were justified because Taylor’s boyfriend fired at officers first.
Mattingly’s attorney Kent J. Wicker in a recent statement called Taylor’s death a tragedy.
“But these officers did not act in a reckless or unprofessional manner,” Wicker said. “They did their duty, performed their roles as law enforcement officers and, above all, did not break the law.”
Hankison allegedly blindly fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment through a covered patio door and window that prevented him from assessing any threat posed by the occupants before opening fire, according to authorities. Some rounds penetrated a neighboring apartment and endangered the lives of three occupants, according to the attorney general.
Stewart Matthews, an attorney for Hankison, told CNN on Friday that he hasn’t received copies of the grand jury recordings but hasn’t seen any “surprises” on news reports.
In the apartment, Walker was unharmed. But Taylor lay on the ground beside him, bleeding profusely. There were bullet holes everywhere, including in a neighboring apartment where a young child lived, according to CNN’s review of the case in July.
Walker dialed 911 on his cell phone. He sounded distraught and told the dispatcher someone had kicked in the door and shot his girlfriend.
The dispatcher peppered him with questions.
Walker moaned his girlfriend’s nickname — “Bre” — over and over.
“Help,” he pleaded.
Taylor had five gunshot wounds, an investigator for the attorney general told the grand jury. One to the left upper breast killed her.
CNN’s Mark Morales, Elizabeth Joseph, Sonia Moghe, Lauren del Valle, Evan-Simko Bednarski, Sheena Jones, Mirna Alsharif, Taylor Romine, Brian Vitagliano, Jamiel Lynch, Julian Cummings and Ganesh Setty contributed to this report.