The former Louisville police officer charged for his actions during the raid at Breonna Taylor’s apartment said he fired his weapon because he thought his colleagues were being “executed,” recordings from grand jury proceedings show.
A Kentucky grand jury last week heard a recording of former Detective Brett Hankison speaking with investigators in March. Nearly 15 hours of audio from the closed-door proceedings were released Friday.
No officers directly involved in the raid were indicted on charges connected with Taylor’s death. But Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for allegedly firing blindly into Taylor’s apartment. He has pleaded not guilty.
Stewart Matthews, an attorney for Hankison, told CNN on Friday that he hasn’t received copies of the grand jury recordings but hasn’t seen any “surprises” on news reports. CNN has reached out to Matthews for additional comment Saturday.
At times during the interview, Hankison sounds overcome by emotion describing when Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly was shot in the leg during the raid.
“I didn’t know if John was down and they couldn’t get his body or if he was - but all I could hear was the firing. I saw the flashing,” Hankison said. “I thought they were just being executed because I knew they were helping John because John said ‘I’m hit, I’m down’ and the gunfire intensified.”
Another officer, Lt. Shawn Hoover, also recalled Mattingly saying “I’ve been hit!,” according to a recording of his March interview with investigators.
Several times during his interview, Hankison said he had seen a large figure at the end of the apartment’s hallway in a military-like stance and holding a long gun that he believed was an AR-15 rifle.
Hankison told interviewers that he fired his weapon fearing for his own life and those of his colleagues because he felt the officers were “sitting ducks.”
Investigators determined that Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, had a 9mm handgun at the scene.
Walker’s attorney, Steve Romines, told CNN that Walker told officers at the scene that Taylor fired the gun because he feared police might harm him.
“Kenny Walker told police as soon as they interviewed him at the station that he had fired the shot and advised them he had told the police at the scene she had fired because he believed they might very well kill him,” Romines said.
Hankison volunteered to work on his day off
The officers executing the warrant on Taylor’s apartment weren’t on the case and were a “hodgepodge of people thrown together,” Hankison said.
Hankison said he wasn’t supposed to be working that night as it was his scheduled day off. He wasn’t an investigator on the case but he answered an “all-call” email for help to serve four scheduled warrants, he told investigators.
The officers were briefed minimally on the raid’s location around 10 p.m., roughly two hours before the raid, Hankison said.
“We were all kind of the older guys who were put with it because this was going to be the easy location,” Hankison said.
They anticipated an “easy” night because the main suspect in the case was not thought to be there, Hankison said, and they knew a “heavyset” woman with little or no criminal record lived there and would likely be alone.
In another recording, Detective Herman Hall, an investigator with the state attorney general’s office, told the grand jury he knew of no official plan for the officers in the botched raid.
A juror said Mattingly told investigators that officers had a formal plan, with specific roles, for executing a number of search warrants that night.
The juror asked if anyone had seen a formal plan that would back up Mattingly’s account.
“No ma’am,” Hall replied. “I haven’t seen it.”
Hall told the panel the “only plan I have seen” was a whiteboard with addresses of locations to be raided and the names of officers involved in each.
Jurors can be heard murmuring that they had not seen the whiteboard. A photo of the board was shown to them. Hall pointed out that the address listed for Taylor was incorrect.
“Were drugs, money or paraphernalia recovered?” said Hall, repeating a question from a panel member.
“The answer to that is no. They did not go forward with executing the initial search warrant that they had for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.”
CNN’s Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.