On March 13, 32 bullets tore through Breonna Taylor’s apartment. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Louisville Metro Police claimed Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired first, and that he injured one officer in the leg with that shot.
That first shot is a significant one: because of it, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said last week that LMPD officers Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove and former officer Brett Hankison were justified in their lethal use of force against Taylor. But a ballistics report has called into question whether Walker’s shot hit Officer Mattingly, as Cameron and LMPD claim.
As ABC News reports, a ballistics report conducted by Kentucky State Police could not conclusively determine whether Walker shot Mattingly. This appears to undermine Cameron’s own statements at a press conference last Wednesday, in which he explained the state’s investigation into the Taylor case.
“Kenneth Walker fired the shot that hit Sgt. Mattingly and there’s no evidence to support that Sgt. Mattingly was hit by friendly fire from other officers,” Cameron said. “Mr. Walker admitted that he fired one shot and was the first to shoot.”
ABC News obtained a portion of the state police’s ballistic report, however, and the analysis found Walker’s single shot “was neither identified nor eliminated as having been fired” from his gun “due to the limited markings of comparative value.”
The Louisville Courier Journal notes that Cameron said friendly fire could not have been the cause of Mattingly’s injuries because the three officers were carrying .40-caliber handguns. Walker, a licensed gun owner, had a 9mm pistol on the night of the raid.
But one of Walker’s lawyers, Steven Romines, claimed on CNN that he had obtained LMPD personnel records showing Hankison had also been issued a 9mm handgun.
Walker, 27, has said since the night of the fatal raid that he mistook the plain-clothes officers, who were serving a “no-knock” warrant at Taylor’s home, for intruders. The 27-year-old said he never heard police identify themselves, and armed himself with his 9mm to defend himself and Taylor.
According to Cameron, former officer Hankison, the sole person facing any charges related to the fatal raid of Taylor’s apartment, fired 10 bullets, none of which hit Taylor. Cosgrove fired 16 shots, while Mattingly fired six.
The attorney general had to resort to asking the FBI for help in determining who shot Taylor, as a ballistics report from Kentucky State Police was inconclusive. The FBI Crime Lab’s analysis concluded Officer Cosgrove fired the shot believed to have killed Taylor, puncturing her pulmonary artery.
It was not clear whether Cameron issued a dual analysis for Mattingly’s injuries.
Walker was initially accused of hitting Officer Mattingly in the leg and charged with attempted murder and assault. The charges were later dropped, but a lawsuit Walker has filed against the LMPD and the city of Louisville claims Mattingly was actually injured by friendly fire. According to ABC News, on Saturday, Walker’s attorneys filed a motion asking for the grand jury transcript and a full report from LMPD’s public integrity unit to be made available to the public. Walker’s attorneys are also alleging that a key witness changed his initial story to police; specifically, a neighbor originally supported Walker’s claim that the police did not announce themselves at Taylor’s door. The witness, identified in a Vice report as Aarin Sarpee, later told investigators he heard police announcing their presence at Taylor’s door before forcibly entering the apartment.
Hankison was charged last week with three counts of wanton endangerment for the harm he could have caused Taylor’s neighbors by shooting through her walls.