Kentucky Court Releases Grand Jury Recordings In Breonna Taylor Case
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The Kentucky attorney general has released audio recordings of the deliberations of a grand jury in Louisville that declined to indict police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Now that they've been made public, there's plenty of debate over whether grand jurors were given all the information to decide whether police officers who shot and killed her should have been charged in her death.
Amina Elahi of member station WFPL has been covering this story and joins us now. Amina, thanks so much for being with us.
AMINA ELAHI, BYLINE: It's my pleasure.
SIMON: Tell us what you can about these tapes. What do they sound like? And what do you hear in them?
ELAHI: Well, they don't sound too great. There's a mix of sort of live testimony, as well as recorded interviews. So what you're hearing feels a little distant at times, but you get a sense of the procedure and the people who are speaking. And the live testimony seems to mainly come from investigators and prosecutors from the attorney general's office. But some of the most interesting parts are the interviews of officers that were part of the police's internal investigation. And for some of them, it was the first time we were hearing what they had to say.
I want you to listen to a little bit of what Detective Myles Cosgrove is talking about, what he remembers of that night. But again, the recordings aren't the greatest, so I hope you can get a sense of what the grand jurors heard.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MYLES COSGROVE: I'm almost positive that I was - I had fired or was firing during those flashes and during that vivid - those vivid white and black and gray colors I was seeing.
ELAHI: The FBI ballistics analysis determined that Cosgrove was the one who fired the fatal shot. But the state police analysis was inconclusive on that matter.
SIMON: And, of course, at the heart of so much of the controversy is that that was a no-knock warrant that police had. Why a no-knock warrant? What do the recordings reveal about this?
ELAHI: Well, the no-knock warrant was issued in conjunction with several other no-knock warrants that night. The police say that they had changed the plan to do sort of a knock and announce because they believed that Breonna Taylor would be unarmed and potentially alone. But both the police and Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, agree that they had knocked on the door. Kenneth Walker says he heard them knocking, but he couldn't hear them identifying themselves as police. So when they came in, he fired a shot at them.
Now, the attorney general has said that two of the officers were justified in shooting Breonna Taylor because they did so sort of in self-defense in response to Walker's gun shot. And the attorney general also said that his investigation found the officers announced who they were because they found a witness to corroborate. But what we find in the recordings is that the witness who corroborated changed his story, first saying he didn't hear police announce and later saying he did. And the grand jurors heard that at least three other witnesses said they didn't hear the police announce. So there's still a lot of questions about what exactly happened that night.
SIMON: And, of course, the grand jury indicted former Detective Brett Henkinson (ph) for - Hankison, forgive me - for wanton endangerment. When he fired his gun, bullets went into the apartment of a neighbor. What did you learn about him from these tapes?
ELAHI: Well, Hankison made a lot of claims in his interview with police investigators that weren't backed up by evidence. For example, he claimed someone inside the apartment was shooting with a rifle. No such weapon was found on the premises. And he also said some things about being able to see a target inside when he couldn't actually see because the window he was shooting through was covered by blinds - so, again, raising a lot of questions that weren't actually able to be answered by these recordings.
SIMON: Amina Elahi of member station WFPL in Louisville. Amina, thanks so much for covering the case and speaking with us.
ELAHI: You're welcome.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.