Will There Ever Be Justice For Breonna Taylor?

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S1: That’s right.

S2: Early in the morning of March 13th, a couple of officers from Louisville’s Police Integrity Unit started up a recording.

S1: We’re just trying to find out what happened.

S2: They were talking to a guy named Kenneth Walker. They want to know more about a police operation that had gone terribly wrong at an apartment building south of downtown. Three thousand three Springfield Drive.

S3: Who is it? Whose apartment is that to you?

S1: My girlfriend.

S4: What is her name?

S1: Brianna Keilar, Brianna Taylor.

S5: In the months since this recording was made, Brianna Taylor’s name has become a hashtag and a rallying cry. This interview is from before all that, when Kenneth Walker was just confused and overwhelmed.

S1: When do you say I’m scared?

S5: Kenneth was with Brianna when she was shot by police until the cops burst in.

S2: They’d been having an utterly ordinary night. The kind you probably forget if it wasn’t for what happened next.

S6: So had you been over there all day, you had a good day.

S5: He walks the officers through. You know what they’re their night was like.

S2: We can listen to this audio because the work of people like Tessa Duvall. She’s a reporter at Louisville’s Courier Journal.

S7: They had gone to dinner at Texas Roadhouse and then they got home and they were watching Freedom Riders, the movie. And so that that has really stuck with me, in particular just because it brought back some of the humanity to something that’s become very full of legal jargon and police terminology. And it’s a good reminder that this is still a story about a person who is just having a normal night until all of this happened in the moments leading up to this shooting.

S2: All Kenneth knew was that there was this pounding on the door. He didn’t know who it was. So he bolted up in bed and tried to protect himself.

S3: And Brianna, with a gun, next thing I know, she’s opening the doors, blasted open, and I hear a bunch of yelling and just just panic. And I’m telling somebody I’m yelling help, cause she’s right here breathing and nobody’s come in. I’m just confused and scared. I feel the same. Right.

S8: My understanding is that it’s been pretty difficult to get your hands on documentation around what happened with Briona Taylor.

S9: Yes. So we really have not gotten a lot from the city in terms of documents related to this case.

S8: How many months has it been since Brianna Taylor was killed? It’s been over four months. Does it surprise you that you still know so little?

S9: I don’t know if it surprises me, but it is frustrating. You know, the community has seen what’s happened in Minneapolis and Atlanta and seen what they perceive to be much faster results in in terms of fatal police shootings and four months later. It’s very frustrating to a lot of activists and protesters that there are no criminal charges at all. So the community is as frustrated by what it perceives to be a lack of action on this.

S10: Today on the show, what will justice for Brianna Taylor look like?

S5: I’m Mary Harris. You’re listening to what next? Stay with us.

S8: Can you just give, like, the simplest explanation, as you understand it now, of what we think happened that night?

S11: So the night that Brian Taylor died, she was at home with her boyfriend and they were in bed watching a movie. It was about 12, 40 in the morning when police officers went up to her apartment door and started banging on the door. They did have a search warrant with a no knock provision in it, meaning that they didn’t have to announce themselves. What were they looking for?

S12: There was a broader narcotics investigation going on. And so began. And Taylor’s connection to all of this is that she had previously dated one of the main suspects, a man named Jamarcus Glover. And they maintained what her attorneys have called a passive friendship. And police allege in the search warrant that they had seen this individual go into her apartment and getting a box and they thought that perhaps Brianna was holding drugs or holding money for him. And that was the premise for searching her house. And all of that has since been called into question as well with your comments made by the postal inspector who has said, well, actually, you know, we determined that there was nothing suspicious being sent to her house.

S8: So the police come into her house. They sort of banged down the door. What happens then?

S12: So from the inside. Kenny Walker says that they hear this knocking, they hear this pounding, and they have no idea who’s on the other side of the door. You know, they had she was asleep. He was about to fall asleep. And they’re both yelling out, you know, who is it? Who’s there? Who is it? And he said that they don’t hear anything back. On the other side of the door, police say that they are now announcing themselves, that they’re saying police search warrant come to the door. And after repeatedly knocking and not getting an answer. Police use a battering ram. And when the door flies open is when Kenny Walker, who is a legal gun owner, fires a shot, which he said he thought was a warning shot against whoever was breaking into his house. He fires the shot and it strikes Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh and his femoral artery. And after he’s shot, Sergeant Mattingly says he fires several rounds back. He tries to get himself out of out of the doorway. He keeps firing. He gets to safety. And as all of this is unfolding to other officers, Miles Cosgrove and Brett Hankerson are also firing. And in this gunfire, Brianna is struck multiple times and ultimately dies from her injuries, from being shot repeatedly.

S2: After that interview with police, Kenneth Walker was arrested, charged with the attempted murder of a police officer.

S9: So in the immediate aftermath of the Briona Taylor shooting, the police department held a press conference, which is, you know, pretty standard, and basically said that this was about an officer having been shot in the attempt to serve a search warrant. So it was a very short press conference. I mean, I think it lasted maybe seven or eight minutes. And it was really presented about this is a story about an officers injury and well-being.

S8: When did the understanding of what happened that night begin to change?

S9: It really took a couple of months for four people to start digging in and seeing what we had maybe originally been told about this being a case of someone shooting at a police officer was perhaps more complicated than we had originally been led to believe.

S8: Yeah, I mean, my my understanding is that the attorneys for the family began releasing audio and pictures where you could see the state of Briony’s apartment and you could hear her boyfriend talking in the moment about what happened. And it just it just changed the understanding right away.

S7: Absolutely. There there were photos of Brianna Taylor’s apartment that were released by attorneys for her family and just the array of household items that had bullets in them, pots and pans, a clock, a toolbox. There were holes in the bathroom in the windows. I mean, the sliding glass patio door was shattered. There were bullet holes through the curtains covering that patio door. There were bullet holes in the hallway and there were blood everywhere. Those were some of probably the first glimpses of how. Chaotic and violent, this encounter was because there were just bullet holes just absolutely everywhere.

S2: These photos, they were released just a few days before George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. His death increased the pressure on Louisville police. The chief eventually was fired. No knock warrants got banned in the city. And one of the officers involved in Briony’s death, Brett Hankinson, was fired. But protests continued.

S11: What protesters and Lowville want is they want criminal charges. You know, that is the end goal for this banding. No knock warrants. You know, in their opinion is great. There never should have been one used. And Bronagh Taylor’s case in the first place is what a lot of them would say. So they see banning no knock warrants as an important step. But it’s not that’s not the solution. So here I mean, people really want they want charges and won’t settle for anything less than charges being brought against those officers. And the longer it takes, the more the frustration builds.

S8: In the weeks after Brandon Taylor’s death. The police department started investigating itself. And then last month, they did release an incident report from the night of Briony’s death. Can you characterize that a little bit?

S11: Yes. So we have gotten very few documents from Lowville Metro Police about what happened the night Garner died. But one of the documents they did ultimately turn over after resisting for a long time was the initial incident report, which was. Useless.

S8: Why do you say useless?

S11: It contained absolutely no helpful information. It had her name. It had her. Her age, I think. But then it was just it was either so redacted or full of incorrect information. It lists the situation as a death investigation with police involved. But then also checked. No. Under forced entry. Even though police admit they used a battering ram to get into her apartment under injuries, it listed none. Which. Well, that I. It listed none, which we knew that she was dead. So there obviously were injuries. We also know that an officer was injured in this incident. So it was, you know, not only heavily redacted, it was full of inaccuracies. Irony on top of all of it is, is that police resisted releasing this. For what reason? I don’t know, because, as I said, it was not helpful.

S8: So if the police can’t investigate themselves, who is investigating what happened that night now? Yeah.

S13: So the police did do an investigation into this case through its professional integrity unit. And the findings of that investigation have been turned over to the state attorney general’s office. Daniel Cameron is the attorney general in Kentucky. And so his office has had that file for a couple of months now. And the reason it’s in his hands is because he is the special prosecutor over this case. The local commonwealth’s attorney who typically would handle a case like this, actually recused himself, citing a conflict of interest because he was at the time pursuing the attempted murder charges against Kenny Walker. Those have since been dismissed. So because of that, this case is in the hands of Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has said repeatedly that he does not have a timeline on this.

S7: That it’s an ongoing investigation and basically that we will all get these results when we get them and not a moment sooner before he’s ready to turn them over.

S8: So now that has been so many months. And you said there’ve been protests every day. Where are the protests focused right now?

S7: It really seems like the biggest focus is making sure that Briona Taylor is not forgotten. That’s. They know it’s almost as if protesters are sending the message.

S13: You know, we haven’t forgotten her name. You know, we know we haven’t forgotten those officers names either. You know, we know that two of them are still on the payroll.

S7: And we know that charges haven’t been filed. I mean, it’s a lot of the I guess you could say, kind of actionable items with the police chief being fired and no knock warrants being banned.

S13: Those steps have been taken. And so now it’s just about keeping the pressure on to say we haven’t forgotten her and we’re not satisfied with what you’ve done yet. I mean, we saw last week dozens of protesters, I think. Eighty seven protesters were arrested at Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s house and they were originally charged with felony is for trying to intimidate the participant in the legal process, which is a felony. And ultimately, the felony charges were dismissed. But I mean, protesters are are willing to go to jail and to escalate and to keep the pressure on however possible. So they are not satisfied right now. And that is the message that they’re sending by showing up every single day.

S8: We talked about how in other cities they seem to have acted faster. Whether you look at Atlanta and the death of Rashad Brooks, whether you look at Minneapolis and what happened there. I wonder if you as a reporter have in having followed this case what you think the differences in Louisville, why it seems to be moving at a different pace.

S7: If you were to ask the mayor, he would blame it on body cameras or rather the lack of body camera footage. So with so we just don’t have the proof. We don’t. There is because there is not footage, things that can be open to interpretation.

S13: So when people saw that video of what happened to George Floyd, I mean, that was immediately decried by police officers all over the country who said this is not what policing looks like with Briona Taylor.

S7: I mean, it’s people are able to pick at it. You know, one of the most common things I hear is while Kenny Walker shot at police officers and therefore that justifies what happened next, or that if Briona had not been involved with Jamarcus Glover, then she would have never been on the search warrant. So there are people who will certainly try to justify what happened through through things like that. Who can I ask you? Who’s saying that to you? That is not necessarily coming from anyone in position of authority. But that is coming from people who I hear from readers.

S13: And, you know, because this is such a national story, I’m hearing from people all over the place that if Kenny Walker had never shot, you know, then she’d still be alive. Or if she wasn’t, you know, connected with a drug dealer, then she’d still be alive.

S7: I mean, there are there are obviously people who can, you know, do the mental gymnastics to justify just about anything. But I think from a more official perspective, you know, it’s almost like this case is caught in like a he said she said, you know, what Kitty Walker heard and saw on one side of the door is his perspective and what officers say they did and say that they said on the other side of the door is is is their set of facts. And, you know, how do you rectify these two and come up with what really happened?

S2: But TSA says part of the reason the record and Briona Taylor’s death seems incomplete is because one side remains silent.

S9: There’s still a lot we don’t know from the officers perspective because we have heard Kenny Walker’s full interview at this point. Attorneys for Beyond Taylor’s family have been very vocal about what they feel happened. But the police have been very tight lipped about all of this. So we have not seen things like ballistics reports. You know, we don’t know who fired the shots that were ultimately fatal. We have only heard from one of the three officers who was involved in the shooting. But we know there are many more on scene.

S7: And all of those things provide really important context to what happened that night.

S8: We’ve talked about how this report from attorney general. No one really knows when it’s going to come out. I wonder if you look for the day that that report comes out. I’m sure you want to see it. But you also realize that no matter what it says, there’s going to be a group of people who’s pretty upset by it.

S7: Absolutely. No matter what the attorney general decides in this case, somebody is going to be unhappy and. That is. Not going to be a good day in Louisville because obviously this is something that people feel incredibly passionate about. And, you know, people’s. People’s hearts are really invested in. And so no outcome makes everybody happy.

S2: At the end of this test, the Duvall. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you. Tessa Duvall is a reporter for the Courier Journal. And that’s the show. What Next? Is produced by Jason de Leon, Daniel Hewitt, Mary Wilson and Daniel Eavis. We’ll got help from Alicia McMurry and Alison Benedict. What next? TBD on the Future of Cities is coming up tomorrow. You won’t want to miss it. I’m Mary Harris. I’ll talk to you on Monday.