Louisville Officers Shouldn't Have Fired 'A Single Shot' Inside Breonna Taylor's Home: Preliminary Probe

Breonna Taylor
Memorial to Breonna Taylor in Louisville.Getty Images

Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed in a botched police raid on her home. Officers were executing a no-knock warrant in the early morning hours of March 13, 2020.

The Louisville police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor shouldn't have fired a single round into her dark, Kentucky apartment, according to a preliminary internal report.

Newly released documents concerning the death of the 26-year-old Black nursing student say officers involved in a botched raid on her apartment in the early morning hours of March 13, 2020 violated department policy on the use of weapons.

"They took a total of thirty-two shots, when the provided circumstances made it unsafe to take a single shot. This is how the wrong person was shot and killed," Sgt. Andrew Meyer of the police department's Professional Standards Unit wrote in the preliminary report, according to multiple media outlets including the Louisville Courier-Journal, ABC News and The Washington Post.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot in the leg during the incident, and former officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove violated department policy by allegedly ignoring the significant risk of hitting someone who did not pose a threat, the report said.

Hankison is the only officer to face charges in the incident, not for killing Taylor, but for allegedly endangering her apartment complex neighbors. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were inside her home when Louisville Metro Police Department officers burst in while serving a no-knock narcotics warrant, authorities said. Walker fired one shot. He told investigators he thought intruders had broken into the dark apartment and he had fired off a warning shot.

The officers unleashed 32 rounds, hitting Taylor six times as she stood in a dimly lit hallway while Walker ran for cover, the report said. The gunfire erupted within seconds, Meyer wrote, while the officers “experienced fear, tunnel vision, and adrenaline.”

Even though Mattingly had been hit in the leg by Walker's shot, he and the other officers should not have returned fire because doing so endangered those inside the apartment, Meyer wrote. The officers should have retreated and reassessed the situation, the report said.

Police officials overturned many of the December report's findings, and cleared Mattingly of any wrongdoing.  He is scheduled to retire on June 1.

The other two officers have been fired. Former Interim chief Yvette Gentry wrote in a Dec. 27 letter to officers that Mattingly’s actions were based on his split-second understanding at the time “after being shot himself.” She wrote that Mattingly fired “at the aggressor he identified.”

Gentry stepped down in January. After the report was made public, she issued a statement Friday saying, "I fired people that some believe should have been suspended, I reprimanded people some people (said) should have been exonerated and I overturned what was believed was not appropriate for the situation," Gentry wrote. "I still believe in my soul Breonna Taylor should be alive."

The U.S. Justice Department announced two weeks ago it had launched a civil rights investigation of the Louisville police department and the shooting death of Taylor.

In September, the city of Louisville settled a wrongful death suit filed by Taylor's family for $12 million.

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