LMPD’s Breonna Taylor File Offers Most Comprehensive Record Of Shooting Thus Far
Nearly 5,600 pages of documents. Hours of video and audio recordings. Ballistics reports. Social media posts from Breonna Taylor’s family’s lawyers.
The disclosure of these and other materials that made up the police’s investigation into their officers’ fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor provides the most comprehensive official report to date of the incident that captured the nation’s attention this year.
City officials published the Public Integrity Unit’s investigative file online Wednesday, less than a week after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron made public the recordings of more than two days of grand jury proceedings, under a judge’s order.
The city released these records nearly seven months after Taylor’s March 13 death.
The Louisville Metro Police Department file is more extensive than what was presented to the grand jury, although Cameron’s office covered some similar ground.
Two weeks ago, that grand jury indicted former LMPD detective Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment for bullets fired into an apartment neighboring Taylor’s. Although police killed Taylor during a middle-of-the-night raid on her apartment seeking evidence against someone else, the grand jury did not indict anyone directly for her death.
The files released Wednesday only reflect LMPD’s investigation, not the one the attorney general’s office conducted after the office was asked to take over as a special prosecutor in May. It includes interviews with officers conducted hours after the raid whose recollections strayed far from what actually occurred — like those who said they believed plain-clothes officers who knocked and broke down Taylor’s door were met by a “volley” of multiple bullets. Investigators recorded a single spent 9 millimeter casing inside Taylor’s apartment (page 25).
Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he fired once from his legally-owned gun, which used bullets of that caliber. He told investigators he did not know the men breaking down his door were police.
One officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, was shot in the leg during the incident. LMPD said he was shot by Walker. Three officers — Mattingly, Hankison and Det. Myles Cosgrove — fired back about 32 times, according to an “officer round count” report dated March 13. Their bullets struck Taylor repeatedly, killing her.
The operation at Taylor’s apartment happened around the same time officers converged on houses on Elliott Avenue, miles away, where her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover lived and was arrested on drug charges. No drugs or money were found in Taylor’s home.
In a statement, Mayor Greg Fischer warned that some images and information contained in the files are “traumatic and painful.”
“Following the decision of the Grand Jury announced by Attorney General Daniel Cameron, it was important to release the PIU files as quickly as possible to the public, after making necessary redactions,” he said. “Much of the information in these files was included in records from the Grand Jury proceedings that were released last week.”
LMPD said photos and videos of Taylor were obscured “out of respect.”
Beyond Cameron’s Investigation
For months, LMPD officials cited the open investigation as the reason not to release the investigative file, despite a flood of open records requests and a lawsuit brought by the Louisville Courier Journal.
Its contents, like those of the grand jury recordings, are likely to be a focus of scrutiny and criticism by supporters of Taylor’s family, who question whether the police’s internal investigation, which built the foundation for Cameron’s investigation, was fair and complete.
On the first page of the first document, titled “PIU 20-019 Investigative Reports,” LMPD Sgt. Jason Vance indicated some concerns about management of the crime scene in an investigative report dated five days after Taylor’s death.
“When I arrival (sic) at the scene I observed yellow police tape identifying the scene. As I approached the tape, I was not challenged upon entering the primary scene. After making contact with LMPD Narcotics Lt. Shawn Hoover, I learned there had been no effort to document individuals who had entered the scene location. I immediately requested patrol to begin a crime scene log,” he wrote.
Attorneys for Walker as well as for Taylor’s family have cast doubt on LMPD’s claims about who shot Mattingly, as well as the integrity of the crime scene.
Cameron claims it would take a “Magic bullet” for another officer to hit Mattingly. According to Mattingly, Walker was standing directly in front 20 feet away w his arm extended.Yet somehow shot him in the side of the leg at an upward angle.Curving bullets would indeed be magical pic.twitter.com/u4ZGTrE0Ko— Steven Romines (@Sromines) October 2, 2020
One aspect of the investigation that goes beyond what Cameron’s office presented to the grand jury involves the acquisition of the warrant for Taylor’s apartment. Cameron said federal investigators are looking into that. In June, then-interim LMPD chief Robert Schroeder placed the officer who applied for that warrant, Det. Joshua Jaynes, on administrative reassignment.
Questions surround the acquisition of that warrant, particularly since a U.S. Postal Inspector told WDRB the Louisville police department didn’t use his office to verify Taylor’s former boyfriend Glover was sending suspicious packages to her home. In fact, police were told “repeatedly” Taylor did not receive packages related to the drug investigation, according to a WDRB of internal reports.
And Judge Mary Shaw, who signed off on the warrant, told the Courier Journal she was worried Jaynes “lied” to obtain it, but said she would defer to the FBI, which is investigating the matter.
According to transcripts released as part of the investigative file Wednesday, Jaynes said he believed “in his heart” Glover was connected to the property, using it not for suspicious packages but for packages in general, and maybe storing money or other things there.
Glover told the Courier Journal in August, after news that the Jefferson County Attorney allegedly offered him a plea sheet that named her as a member of his drug ring, that he ordered shoes and clothes to her apartment. He said he was worried someone might steal deliveries coming to his house.