A key witness in the March 13 raid on Breonna Taylor‘s apartment changed his story on whether officers announced themselves when executing a warrant on a drug case, according to documents and a recording obtained by VICE.
“No, nobody identify themself,” said the man identified in the article as Aarin Sarpee, in a March 21 interview with the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit. He was reportedly picking up his daughter from his brother’s home above Taylor’s apartment when the raid occurred.
Police who spoke to investigators reportedly said that Sarpee argued with Detective Brett Hankison while officers banged on the door to Taylor’s apartment.
The Public Integrity Unit investigates officer-involved shootings.
Sarpee’s story allegedly changed just under two months later, according to VICE. PIU Sgt. Amanda Seeyle reportedly called him back on May 15. This time, Sarpee claimed to hear law enforcement say, ‘This is the cops.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) said that there was a witness who corroborated the police account that cops announced themselves at Taylor’s home.
“Evidence shows that officers both knocked and announced their presence at the apartment,” he said. “The officers’ statements about their announcement are corroborated by an independent witness who was near in a proximity to Apartment 4. In other words, the warrant was not served as a no-knock warrant.”
According to his account, police breached the door after not getting an answer. Sgt. Jon Mattingly allegedly claime to see two people standing next to each other at the end of a hallway. He said the man–identified as Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker–was holding a gun and in a shooting stance.
Walker, who was later charged in a now-dismissed attempted murder case, opened fire, and shot Mattingly in the leg, according to law enforcement. Mattingly, Hankison, and Detective Myles Cosgrove opened fire. The result: Taylor was struck six times, with one bullet being fatal. Labs disagreed on whether Cosgrove fired the fatal round, Cameron said.
Only Hankison was charged in the incident, and that was because some of his bullets allegedly entered a neighboring apartment, which was occupied by three people: a man, a pregnant woman, and a child. Before the criminal case was announced on Wednesday, he had been fired from the LMPD for “blindly” firing during the incident.
Jesus. Louisville officials said the cops who raided Taylor’s home were not wearing body cameras. They lied. At least one was. There’s also a ton of footage from the aftermath of the raid. And it’s damning. https://t.co/vrB1gDVNbr
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) September 27, 2020
No one was charged in Taylor’s death. Cameron said Wednesday that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in opening fire because Walker opened fire first. The decision and result of the Jefferson County grand juries’ indictment garnered criticism, fueling protests nationwide. Louisville city councilwoman Jessica Green (D-District 1), an attorney and former prosecutor, argued late Wednesday that that self-defense claim was not applicable under the law because Taylor was unarmed and there was no allegation she was armed.
The LMPD did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment. Sarpee declined to comment when VICE contacted him. He said he had to speak to his attorney first. The outlet said they could not reach that lawyer for comment.
Hankison faces three counts of wanton endangerment. His attorney has said that they are going to plead not guilty.
Walker’s lawyer Steve Romines told the outlet he saw the file and listened to Sarpee’s interviews.
“You cannot in good faith look at Sarpee’s interviews and try to rely on him to establish that police announced themselves,” he said. “He’s obviously confused over the course of his interviews.”
He asserted that it was “pretty clear” to him that police were “trying to create the narrative that benefits them.”
Mattingly has staunchly defended police actions on the night of the raid.
“Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday,” he said, writing before the Hankison indictment was announced, “I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night. It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.”
New: LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly (who is being investigated as part of Breonna Taylor’s case) sent an email to around 1,000 officers at 2am that calls protestors thugs, complains about the government enforcing civil rights violations, and claims this is “good versus evil” pic.twitter.com/VcuyPDP790
— Roberto Aram Ferdman (@robferdman) September 22, 2020
Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover was the primary suspect of the drug investigation, and was subject to a raid shortly before Taylor was shot.
[Image via Benjamin Crump]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]