Grand jury recordings: Officer referred to Taylor as 'drug-dealing girl’ during incident

Grand jury deliberations for Breonna Taylor's case to be made public

The recording includes about 20 hours of audio from grand jury proceedings in Breonna Taylor case

The audio recordings of grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case, which ended with no criminal charges against police officers who fatally shot her, have revealed some key details, including comments made by police and the 911 call about her death.

The audio of the approximately 20 hours of grand jury proceedings, which is typically confidential, was released shortly before noon Friday, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. The recordings reveal which witnesses the grand jury heard testify and what they said that led to the decision to charge a former Louisville detective with felony wanton endangerment in the March 13 shooting.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office led the investigation into police actions in the Taylor shooting, did not block the release of the file, which gives context to his office’s presentation to the grand jury. Earlier this week, his office requested a weeklong extension to redact personal information from the recording before it is heard by the public. Instead, a judge gave him two days.

One of the grand jurors in the case said Cameron never put forth an option to indict the police officers for murder in the shooting in which Taylor was wounded several times by police, according to reports.

A lawyer for the unnamed juror filed a motion in court Monday seeking the release of grand jury transcripts and permission from a judge to speak publicly about the case.

The recordings cover the grand jury’s sessions Sept. 21-23 and are broken into 14 audio files, with witnesses' personal information redacted because of concerns of threats that have been made to officials and officers.

No written transcripts have been released.

Some of the recordings revelation include:

  • During the proceedings, according to the recording, a detective for the Attorney General’s office named Herman Hall was asked if there was a formal plan for the raid at Taylor’s apartment. He answered: “I’m not aware of one,” according to an NBC News Report.
  • The grand jury listened to a recording of Louisville Police Lt. Shawn Hoover’s interview, which was conducted on the night of the raid. Hoover told that police knocked on Taylor’s door three times before entering. “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 the recording. "So it was the third time that we were approaching, it had been like 45 seconds if not a minute. And then I said, ‘Let’s go, let’s breach it.’
  • Hoover said he believed Walker and Taylor were lying in wait for the officers.
  • According to the grand jury recordings, detective 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.

  • The recording reveals one moment after the officers entered when an unnamed officer at the shooting scene told incorrectly told a detective “Some drug-dealing girl shot at the police," according to recordings reviewed by the Courier-Journal.
  • The grand jury got to hear a 911 call from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who shot at police after they entered. According to the recording, Walker told a dispatcher: “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.” Later, when police interviewed him, Walker seemed confused and told detectives he didn’t know why police would knock on Taylor’s door, according to a report from WAFB-9 after hearing the audio.

“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.”

Who is Breonna Taylor?

Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first African American attorney general, has been scrutinized since announcing last week that the grand jury did not charge the officers for killing Taylor. The officers used a narcotics warrant to enter Taylor’s Louisville apartment on March 13 and shot her after Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot at them. The 26-year-old emergency medical worker was shot five times. Police found no drugs there.

No juror deliberations and prosecutor recommendations and statements were recorded, as they are not evidence, Cameron office said in a release. That is customary in grand jury proceedings, it said.

Cameron said two officers who fired their guns, hitting Taylor, were justified because Taylor’s boyfriend had fired at them first. The boyfriend had said he thought someone was breaking in.

The grand jury’s announcement has been followed by protests in Louisville and across the country, with many calling for accountability in the case.

“I’m confident that once the public listens to the recordings, they will see that our team presented a thorough case to the Jefferson County grand jury,” Cameron said in the statement.

- Daniel Cameron

The audio recording of the jury proceedings will be added to the public court file of fired Officer Brett Hankison. The grand jury charged Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into a neighboring apartment where people were inside. No one was hit. He pleaded not guilty Monday. Cameron said there was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s shots hit Taylor.

The developments come a day after the first woman to lead the Louisville Metro Police Department, Yvette Gentry, was sworn in Thursday as the department’s interim chief.

“I know I’m interim,” Gentry said at a small ceremony streamed on the department’s Facebook page. “But I represent something different to a lot of people being the first woman to take this title, so I’m not going to shortchange that.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In Other News