Police who shot Breonna Taylor ‘announced themselves as law enforcement’

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Breonna Taylor memorial in Louisville, Kentucky

Police who shot Breonna Taylor announced themselves as law enforcement before entering her apartment, according to grand jury evidence that was among hours of audio recordings released on Friday.

“We knocked on the door, said ‘police’, waited, I don’t know, 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said ‘police’, waited even longer,” Louisville police Lieutenant Shawn Hoover said in an interview recorded on March 13, the date Ms Taylor was shot, and later played for the grand jury.

“So it was the third time that we were approaching, it had been, like, 45 seconds if not a minute,” Mr Hoover said. “And then I said, `Let’s go, let’s breach it’.”

Grand juries typically meet in secret, and releasing evidence from their proceedings is rare.

A court ruled that the content of the proceedings should be made public. The grand jury in Ms Taylor’s case brought no criminal charges against the officers for her killing, angering many in Louisville and around the country and setting off renewed protests against police treatment of black people.

Officers had a “no-knock” warrant to search Ms Taylor’s apartment for drugs, but Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron later said officers announced themselves.

It is a key issue because the officers said they opened fire after Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a gunshot at them. Mr Walker said he did not know the men who burst into the home were police.

One law enforcement officer said police ultimately never executed the warrant to search Ms Taylor’s apartment.

“Were drugs money or paraphernalia recovered from apartment 4? The answer to that is no,” the officer said on the recording. “They didn’t go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”

Cameron, whose office led the investigation into police actions in the Taylor shooting, did not object to the file’s release. But on Wednesday, his office asked for a week’s extension to edit out personal information from the material. The judge gave him two days.

Mr Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first African-American attorney general, has acknowledged he did not recommend homicide charges for the officers involved.

Police used a narcotics warrant to enter Ms Taylor’s Louisville apartment on March 13. The 26-year-old emergency medical worker was shot five times.

Mr Cameron said two officers who fired their guns, hitting Mr Taylor, were justified because her boyfriend had shot at them first. Mr Walker has said he thought someone was breaking in.

The grand jury did charge fired Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a neighbouring apartment. No one was hit.

He has pleaded not guilty. Mr Cameron said there was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s shots hit Ms Taylor.

The audio recording of the jury proceedings were being added to Hankison’s public court file.

Protesters have taken to the streets to demand more accountability in the case. Activists, Ms Taylor’s family and one of the jurors called for the grand jury file to be released.

The release comes a day after the first woman to lead the Louisiana Metro Police Department, Yvette Gentry, was sworn in as the department’s interim chief.

“I know I’m interim,” she said at a small ceremony streamed on the department’s Facebook page. “But I represent something different to a lot of people being the first woman to take this title, so I’m not going to shortchange that.”

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