Police testify they announced their presence at Breonna Taylor’s home, grand jury recordings show


Police who shot and killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, announced themselves as law enforcement before entering her Louisville, Ky., apartment, according to grand jury testimony that was among hours of audio recordings released Friday.

“We knocked on the door, said police, waited I don’t know 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said police, waited even longer,” Louisville police Lt. Shawn Hoover said in an interview recorded March 13, the same date Taylor was shot, and which was later played for the grand jury.

“So it was the third time that we were approaching, it had been like 45 seconds if not a minute,” Hoover said. “And then I said, ‘Let’s go, let’s breach it.’ “

Grand juries typically meet in secret, and releasing testimony and other evidence from their proceedings is rare. But a court ruled that the content of the proceedings in the Taylor case should be made public.

However, juror deliberations and prosecutor recommendations and statements were not recorded, according to the state attorney general’s office, and so were not part of the hours of material released Friday.

The grand jury in Taylor’s case brought no criminal charges against the officers for her killing, angering many in Louisville and around the country and setting off renewed protests against racial injustice and police brutality. 

Officers had a “no-knock” warrant to search Taylor’s apartment for drugs. But Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron later said officers announced themselves.

It’s a key issue because the officers said they opened fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at them. Walker said he didn’t know the men who burst into the home were police. He was charged with attempted murder and assault, but last month state prosecutors dropped the charges, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, right, is shown at a news conference last week held by attorneys for the family. (AP)

One law enforcement officer testified that police ultimately never executed the warrant to search Taylor’s apartment.

“Were drugs money or paraphernalia recovered from apartment 4? … The answer to that is no,” the officer said on the recording. “They didn’t go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was shot five times, according to a coroner’s report released Monday.

New police chief steps in

Cameron, whose office led the investigation into police actions in the Taylor shooting, did not object to the file’s release. But on Wednesday, his office asked for a week’s extension to edit out personal information from the material. The judge gave him two days.

Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first African American attorney general, has acknowledged that he did not recommend homicide charges for the officers involved.

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

The grand jury did charge fired Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a neighbouring apartment. No one was hit. He has pleaded not guilty. Cameron said there was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s shots hit Taylor.

The audio recording of the jury proceedings were being added to Hankison’s public court file.

The release comes a day after the first woman to lead the Louisville Metro Police Department, Yvette Gentry, was sworn in 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.”

Protesters have taken to the streets to demand more accountability in the case. Activists, Taylor’s family and one of the jurors called for the grand jury file to be released.