Findings released by investigative officers assigned to Breonna Taylor‘s deadly shooting revealed that the three officers involved in her untimely death should have not fired shots into her apartment.
While the statement is undoubtedly a “water is wet” moment for Taylor’s family and supporters, the probe also directly contradicts the actions made by law enforcement authorities, namely former Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Yvette Gentry and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who found that the LMPD officers were justified in using excessive force.
A report by Sgt. Andrew Meyer from the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Professional Standards Unit was also backed by another official within the department named Lt. Jeff Artman, ABC News reports.
“They took a total of thirty-two shots, when the provided circumstances made it unsafe to take a single shot. This is how the wrong person was shot and killed,” Meyer wrote in his report.
Cameron instead argued that the officers were justified because they were initially fired upon by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. Walker maintains he fired out of self-defense because he believed their home was being broken into. LMPD claims the shot fired by Walker struck Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh, which prompted an arrest and a charge of attempted murder. The charges against Walker were later dropped.
Meyers report also states that Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove violated a use-of-force policy when they opened fire in the apartment, ignoring the real risk that another person, or an innocent bystander could be struck by the bullets.
“Ms. Taylor’s safety should have been considered before he [Mattingly] returned fire,” Meyer added.
The report goes on to say that deadly force should have been used against Walker after he fired at the officers, but only if they could isolate him as a clear target.
Only Hankinson faced charges on wanton endangerment relating to shots fired inside of a neighboring apartment, instead of charges directly related to Taylor’s death. He plead not guilty last year and awaits trial.
Walker was not physically injured in the shooting, but Taylor was struck six times, including at least one shot fired by Mattingly. A FBI ballistics report found that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot which took Taylor’s life.
Lonita Baker, a lawyer for Taylor’s family condemned former LMPD Police Chief Yvette Gentry for not heeding the instructions of the investigators. Cosgrove and Hankison were terminated for violating policy, but Gentry cleared Mattingly of any wrongdoing prior to her retirement earlier this year.
“It’s disappointing that Chief Gentry went against the recommendation of the investigators. Only she knows the reason that she did that,” Baker said in an interview with WHAS-TV.
“I fired people that some believe should have been suspended, I reprimanded people some people (said) should have been exonerated and I overturned what was believed was not appropriate for the situation,” Gentry said in a statement released on Friday. “I still believe in my soul Breonna Taylor should be alive.”
Mattingly continues to evade responsibility in Taylor’s murder and is penning a book regarding his viewpoint of the case. Recently Mattingly announced he was retiring from the LMPD, slated to take effect on June 1.