Breonna Taylor: Louisville SWAT commander had feeling ‘something really bad happened,’ reports say
A Louisville SWAT Team lieutenant who responded to the crime scene that was later reported to be the fatal officer-involved shooting of Breonna Taylor said he and other team members left the incident with a “bad” feeling about the events that had taken place, according to reports.
Lt. Dale Massey, a Louisville Metro Police Department SWAT Team commander with more than 19 years on the job, was in the process of executing a search warrant in the Kentucky city on March 13 when he learned heard about of an officer-involved shooting at a simultaneous raid at Taylor’s home on Springfield Avenue, he told investigators in audio that was obtained by local news site WDRB.com and VICE News.
“It was just an egregious act, from our perspective, if that’s in fact what happened.”
“We had no idea they were doing a warrant the same time we were,” Massey told officers from LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit during a nearly 30-minute interview on the afternoon of May 19, just over two months after Taylor’s death.
“Going back to the planning phase, we had no idea they were gonna be at that apartment that night,” he later added.
Massey said the SWAT Team was made aware of several raids related to a drug investigation, which were planned for that night and involved someone who was previously associated with Taylor. But the Springfield Avenue raid was not discussed at the briefing before the warrants were executed, from what he could recall.
“We should have knowledge of what they’re doing,” Massey told the investigators. “We, we treat safety very important, right? So, like simultaneous warrants, they’re bad business. Somethin’ goes down like we just saw … we need to be briefed on everything.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency medical worker, lived with her sister in an apartment in Louisville. She and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were in her bedroom on the night of March 13 when police came to her door with a narcotics warrant that was one of five issued that night in a wide-ranging sting.
LMPD Sgt. John Mattingly had entered the home after the door was broken down, and was allegedly shot once in the leg by Walker, who has said he didn’t know the police were at the door, and he fired a “warning shot” thinking it was an intruder.
After Walker fired, Mattingly, Det. Brett Hankison and Det. Myles Cosgrove returned fire, for a total of 32 gunshots fired by police, according to officials and reports. Taylor was shot six times.
Massey said he and his team members arrived at the Springfield Avenue scene approximately 20 minutes after hearing the shots-fired call and only stayed for 10 to 15 minutes. During that time, he said Cosgrove was providing “the best information out of anybody hands down,” and Massey initially believed he wasn’t involved in the shooting.
“I had no idea he was a part of it,” Massey told investigators, later adding: “I was like, man, get him out of the mix because he was still in the mix doing stuff.”
Meanwhile, he recalled Hankison at the scene pointing to a window of the home.
“Det. Hankison looked over and kind of made a motion like … tapped his chest, almost to say, ‘Yeah that was me,’” he recalled.
Massey spokes with the PIU officers for nearly 30 minutes that although he and the other team members might not “been privy to” the investigation, they had a feeling they’d be called in for an interview.
“We talked internally as a team, figuring at some point that we’d be called in here,” he said. “Just based upon what we saw that night not having been privy to any of the investigation. … We just got the feeling that night that, you know, um, something really bad happened.”
“As we debriefed and kind of looked over, it was just an egregious act, from our perspective, if that’s in fact what happened,” he continued. “It’s just, it seemed like there’s no target identification whatsoever for those rounds that were shot outside the apartment.”
Protests have erupted in the Kentucky city and throughout the country for days since a grand jury’s decision last week.
Hankison pleaded not guilty to wanton endangerment on Monday, just five days after a Kentucky grand jury indicted him on three counts for firing into the home of Taylor’s neighbors. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison on each count.
Jurors, who relied on evidence presented by Attorney General Daniel Cameron, didn’t indict any of the officers on charges directly related to Taylor’s death. A member has since filed a motion to have the grand jury transcripts released and to be able to speak publicly about the case.
Cameron said he will release the transcripts on or by Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.