Grand jury recordings released in Breonna Taylor case

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/8/2020, midnight
Grand jury recordings from the police killing of Breonna Taylor case in Louisville, Ky. were released last Friday giving more ...
Breonna Taylor Family photo

Grand jury recordings from the police killing of Breonna Taylor case in Louisville, Ky. were released last Friday giving more transparency into why none of the officers involved were charged in her death.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered the 15 hours of audio recordings be released. Social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and names of minors were redacted. The audio recordings contain the entire presentation of evidence 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,” said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. “Our presentation followed the facts and the evidence, and the Grand Jury was given a complete picture of the events surrounding Ms. Taylor’s death on March 13th. While it is unusual for a court to require the release of the recordings from Grand Jury proceedings, we complied with the order, rather than challenging it, so that the full truth can be heard.”

In March, 26-year-old Taylor was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered her apartment, executing a search warrant. Officers knocked before forcefully entering the apartment.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, believed the officers were intruders and fired his licensed gun at them. The officers fired back with 32 shots hitting Taylor six times and killing her.

The officers involved were Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove. Cameron announced last Wednesday, Sept. 23 that Hankison was being charged on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots into a neighboring apartment––but not for killing Taylor.

The recordings include interviews from Mattingly, Hankinson and Cosgrove along with Det. Mike Nobles and a neighbor.

“The grand jury recordings released did not include the prosecutor recommendations and statements that would have fully pulled back the curtain on Cameron’s handling of the grand jury process,” said Karissa Lewis, national field director of the Movement For Black Lives. “But the evidence we do have is already clear enough: Cameron deliberately chose to let these officers get away with murder as have countless other district attorneys and attorney generals across the country.”

In an interview, Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Taylor’s family, said the family is devastated and outraged by the results of the grand jury. He sent an open letter to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear demanding a special prosecutor and new grand jury reopen Taylor’s case.

“The Kentucky attorney general’s presentation is bewildering to us,” Crump said. “We don’t know what evidence he presented. Did he present any evidence on behalf of Breonna Taylor at all? And if not, then he made a unilateral decision to try and exonerate these police officers who killed Breonna in the sanctity of her own home. In essence, he denied Breonna’s family their day in court and denied Breonna getting justice.”

Crump added the family continues to seek justice and that the case has raised awareness about police violence against Black women.

“The journey for justice is a long one,” Crump said. “I think Breonna’s case speaks to how Black women have been disrespected in society and in the court of law. It is what Malcolm X said, ‘The Black woman is the most disrespected person in America, the most unprotected person in America and the most marginalized person in America.’ Breonna Taylor’s legacy will be one just like with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown that gave great awareness and consciousness that Black lives matter. Breonna’s legacy will give great attention and awareness that Black women lives matter, too.”

Crump said the upcoming election will give people the opportunity to choose how justice is served to the Black community in America.

“We have to have systemic reform to change the culture and the behavior of policing in America especially when it relates to the interaction between law enforcement and minorities,” Crump said. “Also, we have to make sure we vote because elections have consequences. We have to change this moment into a movement, try to turn this pain into a sense of power, and try to change this protest into policy so we’ll have institutional change.”