Breonna Taylor’s death: New bodycam footage shows officers violating department policies

Francis Akhalbey Sep 28, 2020 at 09:00am

September 28, 2020 at 09:00 am | News

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

September 28, 2020 at 09:00 am | News

New bodycam footage reveals some officers violated department policies at the crime scene -- Photo: Breonna Taylor Family

New bodycam footage of the police raid at Breonna Taylor’s apartment reveals several protocols that ought to have been observed by some of the Louisville Metro Police Department officers who responded to the crime scene  – including those involved in the botched raid – were flouted.

In the footage of 45 body cameras that was obtained by VICE News, several department policies were reportedly violated and some parts of Taylor’s boyfriend’s account of what happened after the shooting were also corroborated.

According to the news publication, the footage – which was compiled by the LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit (PIU) and was also given to the Kentucky AG’s office to aid in investigations – raises concerns on what transpired at the crime scene and the investigations that followed. The PIU looks into officer-involved shootings.

Per LMPD’s standards and procedures, the officers who were involved in the botched raid were supposed to have been expeditiously paired with an escort officer and “isolated from all non-essential individuals for the remainder of the initial investigation.” However, footage showed seven officers involved in the shooting weren’t paired with an escort, with some – including Detectives Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove, and Mike Campbell, and Lieutenant Shawn Hoover – still on the crime scene. They were spotted still walking around with their guns drawn.

The other Detectives, Mike Nobles and Tony James, were also not at the crime scene as they had left for the University of Louisville hospital. Sgt. Jon Mattingly, who was shot during the botched raid, had been transported to the hospital for treatment.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” a former LMPD narcotics officer told VICE News after reviewing portions of the footage, adding that the commanders at the scene were supposed to make sure the officers were isolated. “This is not how it’s supposed to work,”

At a certain point, Hankison – who was not supposed to be around the crime scene – entered Taylor’s apartment after she had been pronounced dead and asked the SWAT officers a series of questions. Aware he was breaking protocol, one of the officers asked for Hankison, who fired 10 shots during the shooting, to be moved from the scene. Campbell also reportedly helped question Taylor’s neighbors and was even approached by officials of the PIU for any useful information he may have gotten.

The actions of the officers at the crime scene and the visible breach of department policies were also documented by the PIU and was added to the files given to the AG’s office, VICE News reports.

“Investigators observed Detective Hankison walking in and out of the primary scene. At 0200 hours Sergeant Wilder and I verbally requested Hankison to remove himself from the primary scene and make contact with members of LMPD Peer Support,” Sgt. Jason Vance wrote in his investigative report.

“It should be noted investigators later learned Detective Hankison deviated from standard LMPD practices for an officer involved in a critical incident and left the scene location without his assigned LMPD Peer Support escort,” the report also said. “Hankison deviated from the standard protocol when he traveled unattended to University of Louisville Hospital having contact with CID command and Police Chief Steve Conrad.”

In an interview, SWAT commander, Lieutenant Dale Massey, also confirmed he saw officers who were involved in the shooting still at the crime scene.

Referring to Cosgrove, Massey said the Detective: “Had a rifle slung, so I assumed just having a rifle slung that he was there after the fact….while we’re on scene, we learned that Cosgrove’s involved in it.”

“I was, like, ‘Man, get him outta the mix.’ Cause he was still in the mix doing stuff. I was, like, ‘Get him separated from everybody’,” Massey told investigators, adding: “I do remember saying ‘Hey, separate him. He’s involved. He’s—he was way too up in the mix, you know?’”

Former LMPD police chief, Steve Conrad, also said he was surprised when he later saw Hankison at the hospital.

“I was surprised by that because, you know, the—the typical response is that someone from Public Integrity is usually tasked with keeping up with the officers involved to make sure that they get back here,” Conrad said.

“I believe I mentioned it to Major [Kim] Burbrink that I was surprised he was there,” he told investigators.

Accounts by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, of certain incidents that happened at the crime scene during his arrest, were also backed in the footage. Walker said officers threatened to release a service dog on him while he was being arrested and also told him he was going to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

“It’s all just further evidence of a coverup to violate their own policies and allow suspects involved in the shooting to have access to the crime scene and interview witnesses,” Walker’s attorney told VICE News. “There were some professional officers who attempted to secure the scene and protect the integrity of the investigation but unfortunately they arrived too late.”

Taylor was fatally shot several times in her home while sleeping with her boyfriend in a botched narcotics raid by the LMPD on March 13. The three officers who fired the shots – Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove – were not charged in Taylor’s death by a grand jury on September 23.

Only Hankison, who was fired in the aftermath of the incident, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for firing into the apartments of Taylor’s neighbors.

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