Newly released audio recordings show that cops involved in the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor realized they screwed up and that investigators later soft-peddled their interview with the cop that led the deadly raid.
The recordings reveal that a plainclothes officer went up to Taylor’s boyfriend after the fatal March 13 shooting and told him there had been a “misunderstanding,” NBC News reported Thursday.
“Why’d he say to me that there was a misunderstanding?” Kenneth Walker asked when he was interviewed by police just hours after the botched raid.
“I don’t know,” Sgt. Amanda Seelye, a member of the Louisville department’s Public Integrity Unit, answered. “That’s some new information for us as well.”
“I’m not an idiot,” Walker replied. “They figured out something. They did something wrong.”
By contrast, Sgt. Jon Mattingly, who led the raid on Taylor’s St. Anthony Gardens apartment, wasn’t interviewed until 12 days later, and had a lawyer present in what an expert called a “leading” interview, NBC said.
The sergeant, who was wounded, said he backed out of the apartment as the shooting continued.
“That’s kind of like what I was getting to because of your positioning, you know, initially when you’re shot,” interviewer Sgt. Jason Vance told Mattingly. “And then rightfully so, you’re returning fire.”
“Mm-hmmm,” Mattingly replied.
“But you know you just said you made a conscious decision, you know, ‘I’m injured I need to move, so they can protect themselves and me as well,” Vance said. “And then — I don’t want to put words in your mouth.”
“No, that’s it,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly’s interview lasted 40 minutes, Walker’s 98 minutes.
Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was sleeping in the apartment when police executed a “no-knock” warrant there at 12:40 a.m. Cops said they believed Taylor was stashing drugs in the apartment, although no drugs were ever found.
Police contend that cops knocked and announced themselves. They said the apartment was deemed “a soft target” because there were no animals, children, or threats expected.
Walker said he heard the knock but got no answer when he asked who it was. Fearing it was a push-in robbery, he said he grabbed his licensed handgun and fired a shot when cops burst in, wounding Mattingly in the leg.
The officers returned fire, getting off at least 16 rounds and hitting Taylor with eight bullets, killing her.
Walker, 27, who was not wounded, was later indicted on charges of attempted murder of a police officer. Prosecutors dismissed the charges after Taylor’s death sparked outrage in the community and became a rallying cry for racial justice.
Only one of the cops involved in the raid — Sgt. Brett Hankinson, who fired 10 of the shots inside Taylor’s apartment — has been fired for “wantonly and blindly” shooting into the apartment. None of the officers have been charged.
The FBI is also probing the incident.