What the Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Recordings Reveal

Witness testimony focused on a 'core disagreement': whether cops announced themselves
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2020 6:30 AM CDT
What the Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Recordings Reveal
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron addresses the media in Frankfort, Ky., on Sept. 23, 2020, following the return of a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor.   (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

A Kentucky court on Friday released about 20 hours of recordings from the Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings, and now that audio is available to all. Daniel Cameron, the state's attorney general, says he hopes the public will be able to see, via the witness testimony in the recordings, that his team laid out "a thorough and complete case to the grand jury," per the Courier Journal. Some of the notable moments from the tapes, which were made during the grand jury's proceedings from Sept. 21 to 23 and split into 14 audio files:

  • A "core disagreement" heard in the recordings, per the Washington Post: whether or not Louisville cops announced themselves before they burst into Taylor's apartment on March 13 and fatally shot her.
  • CNN reports on March testimony played for the jurors from officer Jonathan Mattingly, who was injured during the shooting. Mattingly says cops "banged on the door" with "no response," began announcing themselves, and then burst into Taylor's apartment. Mattingly says officers banged on the door "six or seven" times. Taylor's boyfriend, who was in the apartment with her, has said he and Taylor kept asking who was banging on the door and received no answer.
  • Recordings from at least three other police officers were played in which they insisted they knocked and IDed themselves as police. Det. Michael Nobles said that even though they had a no-knock warrant, they opted to knock, because they thought Taylor might have children with her. "We wanted to give her time to, you know, warn the kids," he says in his recording.

  • In his testimony, officer Myles Cosgrove described "forceful pounding" on the part of his colleagues, as well as hearing them say, "Police, search warrant," per the Courier Journal.
  • Detective Herman Hall says one neighbor who was interviewed, Jack Schuler, said there was so much gunfire it sounded like the OK Corral. Another neighbor, Aaron Sarpee, said in a March interview he'd never heard cops announce themselves, but in a May interview, he said he did hear them do so.
  • Cosgrove also detailed what he saw once inside Taylor's apartment, saying he was "immediately overwhelmed with bright flashes and darkness and what I would describe as a movie reel ... where you see white and black, white and black."
  • Cosgrove continues that he then realized Mattingly was on the ground in front of him, right before he saw a "human shadow figure" in the hall and started firing. He says before he managed to make his way out of the apartment and take cover behind an SUV in the parking lot, he lost some of his senses. "It's like I'm in this cave of complete, utter silence," he said.
  • Legal analysts' eyebrows are raised at one big omission in the recordings. They say missing from the tapes are recommendations from prosecutors to jurors on whether any police officers should be charged. That, the Post notes, "leaves pivotal questions unanswered about how [Cameron's] office handled the case." Juror deliberations were also not included.
Hear more of the proceedings here. (More Breonna Taylor stories.)

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