LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Saying the case demands more investigation, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced Friday his office will move to dismiss all charges against Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, firing a gun in her apartment and wounding a police officer.
Kenneth Walker, 27, was charged with attempted murder of a police officer and assault in the March 13 incident in which plain-clothes police officers executed a “no-knock” search warrant at Taylor’s apartment and fatally shot her.
“I believe that additional investigation is necessary,” Wine said.
But Wine said Walker’s case could be presented to a grand jury a second time, depending on the results of investigations by the FBI and Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.
The prosecutor also delivered a strong defense of the police who executed the search warrant of Taylor’s home, saying evidence clearly shows that police knocked on her door multiple times before using a battering ram to get in.
Still, Walker’s attorney, Rob Eggert, said he was “thrilled” by the dismissal.
“Theoretically, they can bring it back,” he said, “but now he is freed from home incarceration and can go on with his life.”
Walker had previously been released from jail in March and placed on home incarceration.
Attorneys for Taylor’s family, Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, said in a statement that the charges never should have been filed.
“This is a belated victory for justice and a powerful testament to the power of advocacy,” they said. “Kenneth Walker and Breonna Taylor did everything right the night police ambushed their home.”
Police say they knocked ‘6 or 7’ times
In an unusual news conference, Wine played statements from Walker on the night of the shooting in which he acknowledged that someone repeatedly banged on the door.
Angrily disputing assertions that police didn’t knock, Wine told reporters that is “clearly refuted by one person inside that apartment who knows best what happened — Walker.”
Wine also played a statement from Sgt. John Mattingly, who Walker allegedly shot, and who said officers announced on “six or seven occasions” that they were police and had a warrant.
Wine said that ultimately a jury will have to decide if Walker was truthful when he said he didn’t hear that, which Wine said would depend on “what you think of his credibility.”
Wine played another clip which showed that Walker initially told police that it was Taylor who fired the single shot from inside the apartment that wounded Mattingly.
Walker said he said that because “I was scared.”
Details of the shootings revealed
The news conference began with Wine offering his condolences to Taylor’s mother.
Then Wine suggested that no-knock warrants are not worth the risk in drug cases such as this one.
“No amount of cocaine or marijuana or other drug or money from the sale of drugs if worth the life of one person like Breonna Taylor or a police officer,” he said.
In other disclosures, Wine said:
- Mattingly was hit in the femoral artery and might have died if not for the wallet in his pocket, which apparently provided some protection from a bullet that hit him.
- Mattingly was not hit by “friendly fire,” despite “misinformation” on social media.
- Walker did not call “911” before police entered the apartment, despite reports to the contrary.
- While police obtained a no-knock warrant, they decided before the search to knock and announce anyway, according to Mattingly’s statement and a plan for the search written in advance on a “whiteboard” that Wine showed reporters.
“There is a tremendous amount of false information that has been disseminated,” Wine said.
Wine also denied allegations of Walker’s lawyer, Rob Eggert, that prosecutors acted unethically when they failed to disclose to the grand jury that indicted Walker that he had told police he didn’t know the intruders were police officers.
The Courier Journal reported Thursday that a police sergeant who presented the case didn’t mention that or that Taylor was killed. But Wine noted that state law and the U.S. Supreme Court have held police do not need to present exculpatory evidence to a grand jury.
Still, Wine told reporters that more information on Walker’s statement to police should have been presented. And Wine said if the case is offered to a grand jury again, Walker will be invited to testify.
‘She was scared to death, and me too’
Wine played for reporters long excerpts of the statement Walker gave to police.
He said he and Taylor were in bed watching a movie when they first heard banging at the door.
“She was scared to death, and me too,” he said.
He said they feared it might be a man she had dated, and that she yelled “at the top of her lungs, ‘Who is it?'”
He said there was no response. He said they heard more banging — “Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!”
He said he was walking with his gun pointed towards the front door when it was blasted off its hinges.
He said he fired one shot at exactly that moment and aimed down.
“I didn’t want to kill anyone,” he said. “I just wanted to get them out of there.”
He said he and Taylor fell to the floor. She was bleeding.
“Then I saw it was police,” he said.
He acknowledged then that officers may have already identified themselves and that he may not have heard them.
Police describe bursting in to Taylor’s apartment
According to Mattingly’s statement, which also was played for reporters, officers had decided to knock even though they had a no-knock warrant because they had heard Taylor was in the apartment alone.
Mattingly said he knocked on the door the first time without saying he was an officer, then gave Taylor plenty of time to come to the door.
When she didn’t, he said he began to repeatedly bang on the door, and he and other officers shouted they were police and had a warrant, including each of three times they struck the door with a battering ram.
He said when the door finally came open, he saw a woman and a man in a hallway and the man was in a “stretched-out position with his hands with a gun.”
Then the man fired, Mattingly said, “like he was at a shooting range.”
Mattingly said he returned fire at least four times before he had to withdraw, bleeding for his gunshot wound.
Andrew Wolfson, 502-396-5853; firstname.lastname@example.org: Twitter
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