Brett Hankison: Fired LMPD detective thought Kenneth Walker was firing an AR-15

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The grand jury recordings of the state’s presentation of the Breonna Taylor case was released...
The grand jury recordings of the state’s presentation of the Breonna Taylor case was released Friday.(Source: WXIX, Gray News)
Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 12:41 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/WKYT) - The public has never heard from former LMPD Det. Hankison about the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment on March 13.

Until now.

More than a dozen recordings of approximately 15 hours of grand jury testimony were released Friday in the high-profile case. Taylor, a 26-year-old healthcare worker, was shot dead in the raid, sparking a national outcry urging police reform and more than 120 days of protests across Louisville.

Hankison was fired in June and indicted last month for “blindly” firing 10 rounds from outside of Taylor’s apartment. As officers were using a battering ram to get into Taylor’s apartment, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired what he would later call a warning shot, thinking intruders were breaking in. Sgt. Jon Mattingly was struck in the leg, and the raid turned chaotic.

Hankison shared his account of the raid during a grand jury hearing 10 days later.

“I returned fire from the angle that I believed (Walker) to still be shooting from, because I could still see muzzle flashes and I could hear the fire, almost like automatic weapon firing, what in my mind, I was certain it was an AR-15,” Hankison said. “I now had a shot where I had my own options to return fire and I did that to the muzzle flashes, and I want to be specific about this, I had already seen where the threat was, saw where he was positioned.”

The warrant was one of several that LMPD officers were serving that night, as part of a larger narcotics investigation. Taylor, an ex-boyfriend named Jamarcus Glover and a man named Adrian Walker were named on the warrant that led officers to her apartment. A short time earlier, Glover was taken into custody during a separate raid at another location.

Hankison described what happened after Mattingly was shot.

“Sgt. Mattingly is down, they’re either pulling him, lot of commotion ... I didn’t know if they were getting to him (pause), I didn’t know if Jon was down and they couldn’t get his body out,” he said. “All I could hear was firing, see flashing, I thought they were just getting executed because I know they were helping Jon. Jon had said, ‘I’m hit. I’m down.’ Gunfire intensifying.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s team presented its case over several days to the grand jury, which last week handed up three indictments on first-degree wanton endangerment charges for Hankison. The charges are related to the bullets that went into Taylor’s neighbors' apartments. Nobody was charged directly in Taylor’s death.

Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, who also fired their weapons that night, were cleared of wrongdoing.

“I’m confident that once the public listens to the recordings, they will see that our team presented a thorough case to the Jefferson County Grand Jury,” Cameron said in a statement Friday. “Our presentation followed the facts and the evidence, and the Grand Jury was given a complete picture of the events surrounding Ms. Taylor’s death on March 13th. While it is unusual for a court to require the release of the recordings from Grand Jury proceedings, we complied with the order, rather than challenging it, so that the full truth can be heard.”

Hankison also said that when he talked to Walker moments after the shooting, Walker allegedly told him that Taylor had fired her gun.

“(Walker) said, ‘My girlfriend is dead in the apartment,’” Hankison recalled. “I mean,my mind was like, ‘Did he, did something already happen? Did he kill his girlfriend?’ He said, 'No, she was shooting with her 9, her 9 millimeter. He said she was the one that shot at us.”

WAVE 3 News has dedicated a team of producers, researchers and reporters who are transcribing the recordings.

Some other key takeaways so far:

+ A detective named Herman Hall was asked if drugs, money or paraphernalia were recovered from Breonna Taylor’s apartment.

“The answer to that is no,” Hall said. “(Officers) did not go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”

Hall’s statement aligns with a claim made by Jamarcus Glover, the former Taylor who’s also a convicted drug trafficker. In a recorded jailhouse phone conversation just hours after the raid, Glover told an associate believed to be Adrian Walker that “Homicide came straight on the scene and they went to packaging Bre and they left.”

Hall also was asked why the officers involved in the raid were not wearing body cameras.

“I can’t answer that,” he said. “I don’t know why body-cams weren’t used for that.”

Hall was asked if there was a formal plan between the seven officers “as they made approach to serving the warrant.”

“I’m not aware of one,” Hall said.

+ Greg Wolf, a detective with the Attorney General’s Office, testified about Taylor’s autopsy report. He said two of the bullets that struck her -- one in the abdomen and one in her left upper breast -- did not exit her body. Wolf said the wound to her upper left breast also injured her lungs, and was the one that killed her.

“It also ruptured an artery that caused some severe bleeding,” he said.

Wolf said Taylor suffered “a wound to her left lower thigh that exited actually ... her left rear upper thigh or side of her thigh.”

Wolf added that Taylor also was shot in the arm, in the thigh and twice in her right foot. The medical examiner found a projectile in the heel of her right foot, Wolf said.

Wolf also testified about Mattingly’s injury. He was shot once in the leg in the initial moments of the raid. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired what he would later call a warning shot when he thought intruders -- not officers -- were breaking into the apartment. He was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but that charge was eventually dropped.

Walker’s attorney recently claimed the bullet that struck Mattingly did not exit Mattingly’s body, and could have been the result of friendly fire. But Wolf, a detective for nearly 40 years, testified that the bullet did exit Mattingly’s body, adding that it was fired from a Glock 43X, which he said was used by Walker that night. The 40-caliber Glock 22 is the standard service pistol for LMPD officers.

This story is being updated.

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