Breonna Taylor grand jury audio reveals conflicting accounts of fatal raid

The dueling accounts of a chaotic and tragic night are captured in 15 hours of recordings from the grand jury’s examination of the fatal raid, which was part of a drug investigation targeting a man who was arrested elsewhere.

A memorial to Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 23, 2020. A judge on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, allowed the Kentucky attorney general to delay the release of an audio recording from the secret grand jury deliberations in which jurors decided not to charge the two Louisville police officers who shot and killed Taylor. (Xavier Burrell/The New York Times)
A memorial to Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 23, 2020. A judge on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, allowed the Kentucky attorney general to delay the release of an audio recording from the secret grand jury deliberations in which jurors decided not to charge the two Louisville police officers who shot and killed Taylor. (Xavier Burrell/The New York Times)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two very different accounts emerged Friday from either side of an apartment door in Louisville, the one that police officers knocked off its hinges in March as they delivered a search warrant at the home of Breonna Taylor.

In newly released audio from closed-door grand jury proceedings, there was conflicting testimony over what happened in the seconds before the police shot and killed Taylor, a Black emergency room technician whose death pulled people to the streets in protests across the country.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said in the recordings that he was “scared to death” when he and Taylor heard pounding on the door in the middle of the night and got no response after they yelled, “Who is it?”

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The officers involved in the raid, though, insisted in interviews with investigators that they had loudly identified themselves as the police before they burst through the door. It was only after one officer was shot by Walker, they said, that they opened fire at the couple, killing Taylor.

The dueling accounts of a chaotic and tragic night are captured in 15 hours of recordings from the grand jury’s examination of the fatal raid, which was part of a drug investigation targeting a man who was arrested elsewhere. For the first time, some of those directly involved in the police shooting — including neighbors, officers and Walker — are heard describing the fateful night.

“Next thing I know, she’s on the ground and the door’s busted open and I hear a bunch of yelling and just panicking,” Walker said about Taylor in an interview with investigators in March.

The grand jury concluded its work by bringing an indictment against one former officer for endangering Taylor’s neighbors; it brought no charges against the two officers who shot her.

Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general, released the recordings Friday after a judge ordered him to do so, but the recordings did not include the instructions that prosecutors gave to the 12 jurors. One juror said Cameron was deflecting blame by saying it was jurors who had opted not to indict the two officers who shot Taylor.

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The grand jurors met in person over three days and reviewed police interviews of officers and witnesses at the scene, 911 calls and body camera videos from after Taylor was shot. They also met directly with detectives who had investigated the killing.

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