LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Just after midnight March 13, three Louisville police officers fired more than 20 bullets into Breonna Taylor’s apartment, striking her five times.
But she didn’t die — not right away.
For at least five minutes, she struggled, coughing for breath, according to her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who told investigators she was alive as he called her mom and yelled for help.
“(Police are) yelling like, ‘Come out, come out,’ and I’m on the phone with her (mom). I’m still yelling help because she’s over here coughing and, like, I’m just freaking out,” Walker said in a recorded police interview 3 hours after the shooting.
For more than 20 minutes after she was fatally shot at approximately 12:43 a.m. by Louisville officers, Taylor, 26, lay where she fell in her hallway, receiving no medical attention, according to dispatch logs.
“Breonna, who was unarmed in her hallway, was struck by several rounds of gunfire. She was not killed immediately,” attorneys Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker wrote in a revised lawsuit filed on behalf of Taylor’s family. “Rather, she lived for another five to six minutes before ultimately succumbing to her injuries on the floor of her home.”
Outside, officers shouted for Walker to exit and rushed to treat Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, putting a tourniquet on his thigh after Walker had shot him while he and two other plainclothes officers forced their way into Taylor’s South Louisville apartment while executing a “no-knock” search warrant.
No one went inside to try to help Taylor, records show.
What happened after Breonna Taylor was shot?
The Courier Journal reviewed multiple documents to recreate the minutes that followed Taylor’s shooting, looking at search warrants, arrest citations, Taylor’s death certificate and the coroner’s news release, dispatch logs and court filings, as well as recorded police interviews with Mattingly and Walker.
In the four months since her death, Taylor’s name has become a rallying cry for protesters seeking racial justice in Louisville and around the nation, lifting up alongside as George Floyd and other Black Americans who died at the hands of police.
The records show that police didn’t take Walker into custody until more than 15 minutes after the shooting and didn’t radio in to dispatch about Taylor being inside the apartment until 1:10 a.m. — nearly a half-hour after she was shot by police.
“F (female) inside with gun kicked under the bed,” the dispatch log shows at 1:10 a.m.
Two minutes later: “F sup to be laying on ground in hallway.”
A copy of Taylor’s death certificate obtained by The Courier Journal lists her time of death as “approx. 0048.”
That time has since come into question by the coroner herself, however. Jefferson County Coroner Barbara Weakley-Jones told The New York Times this month that the 12:48 a.m. time was “an estimate,” even a “flip of the coin.”
Weakley-Jones did not respond to The Courier Journal requests for interviews left at her office and by email.
But she told the Times that the deputy who filled out the death certificate was untrained in reading autopsies, and claimed that Taylor’s injuries would’ve been lethal even had medical attention been given.
She told the Times that Taylor likely would have died in “less than a minute.”
“Even if it had happened outside of an ER, we couldn’t have saved her,” Weakley-Jones said.
Taylor’s family has alleged in a court filing that for “more than five minutes,” she was still breathing and “fought for her life.”
That amended complaint argues that not only did Louisville police recklessly and needlessly break into her apartment while serving a search warrant with a no-knock clause as part of a narcotics investigation, they failed to give her medical assistance after repeatedly shooting her.
Taylor’s shooting is under investigation by the FBI and state attorney general, both of which are expected to evaluate whether criminal charges against police officers involved are warranted.
Police haven’t said who fired the five shots that struck Taylor but have said the officers who fired their weapons were Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove and Detective Brett Hankison.
Spokeswoman Jessie Halladay declined to comment for this story, saying it’s “not proper to comment” while the case is under review by the state attorney general.
Mattingly and Cosgrove are on administrative reassignment, while Hankison was fired in June and is appealing his termination. Attorneys for Taylor have alleged Hankison, who was outside the apartment and has been accused of firing “blindly,” fired at least one of the fatal shots.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has declined to say whether the scope of his investigation has expanded beyond Hankison, Mattingly and Cosgrove, but at least one other officer, Joshua Jaynes, who sought the no-knock warrants used in the investigation that night, has been administratively reassigned by the department.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron:Still no timeline on Breonna Taylor investigation
To reconstruct a timeline of the aftermath of the fatal police shooting, The Courier Journal used timestamps from 911 calls, dispatch logs, police interviews and the amended complaint filed by Taylor’s family.
Here’s what they showhappened in Taylor’s final moments:
Breonna Taylor ‘should be there alone’
Before Louisville Metro Police officers banged on Taylor’s door at 12:40 a.m., setting into motion the events that led to her death, Walker and Taylor were at home, in bed, watching the movie “Freedom Writers” on TV.
They’d gotten back about 9 p.m., after eating at Texas Roadhouse and giving a friend’s kids rides across town. It was Taylor’s first night off after a few consecutive days with 12-hour shifts as an ER technician, Walker told investigators in a recorded interview hours after the shooting.
She fell asleep as the movie was still playing, and Walker wasn’t far behind, he told police in that interview.
“Literally, the night was over. If nobody knocked, we would’ve been asleep within 10 to 15 minutes,” he said.
Meanwhile, about 10 p.m., Mattingly and other officers were being briefed on the plan to execute a search warrant on Taylor’s apartment as part of a larger narcotics investigation, Mattingly said in an interview after the shooting.
He said they were told that Taylor wasn’t believed to have children or animals, “but they weren’t sure.”
Taylor “should be there alone, because they knew where their target was,” Mattingly told investigators.
A man named Jamarcus Glover, who was also named on the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, was arrested the same night, 10 miles away at a house on Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood.
At that interview, about two weeks after the shooting, an investigator asked Mattingly if he remembered the name of the search warrant’s target.
“Not offhand,” he responded. “We didn’t write it. We didn’t do any of the investigation. We did none of the background.”
Detective Joshua Jaynes, a member of a different unit in Mattingly’s division, had requested the warrant for Taylor’s apartment and done much of the surveillance and investigation himself, according to the affidavit.
Another officer was responsible for watching Taylor’s apartment earlier that night, Mattingly said.
The door ‘comes off its hinges’
At 12:40 a.m., police officers were in place outside of Taylor’s apartment. Mattingly said he began to bang on the front door.
Inside, Walker said he and Taylor were in her bedroom when they heard the knocking.
They called out, asking who it was, but got no response, Walker said. He said later he thought it might have been Taylor’s former boyfriend.
He didn’t suspect it could have been police, according to his interview hours later.
Outside, Mattingly heard no response and banged on the door again, later telling investigators:”At that point we start announcing ourselves ‘Police! Please come to the door. Police! We have a search warrant.'”
Mattingly estimated he banged on the door “six or seven different time periods,” which “seems like an eternity when you’re up at a doorway.”
The knocking lasted 45 seconds to a minute, he estimated, before police decided to use a battering ram to force their way into Taylor’s apartment.
An officer hit the door with the ram three times before it opened, Mattingly said.
Inside, Walker grabbed his gun, “scared to death,” as both pulled on clothes and went to answer the door. They left the bedroom and hadn’t made it down the hallway before the door “comes off its hinges,” he said.
Walker told police he fired one shot as a warning, aimed at the ground, still unable to see and unclear on who was at the door.
“But you can’t see anybody, though, when the door comes off its hinges,” Walker told investigators. “It happened fast, like an explosion. Boom, one shot. Then all of the sudden, there’s a whole lot of shots. We both drop to the ground. But I just hear her (Breonna Taylor) screaming.”
Mattingly told investigators that while he was in the doorway, he saw a man and a woman in the hallway. Then, there was a shot
“And as I turned the doorway, he’s in a stretched-out position with his hands, with a gun,” Mattingly said. “And as soon as I clear, he fires. Boom.”
Mattingly felt a pain in his leg. He fired four times.
He went around the door and fired two more rounds.
‘No-knock’ searches vs. ‘stand your ground’ laws:A deadly duo in Breonna Taylor shooting
A series of shots in the apartment
At 12:42 a.m., neighbors in the St. Anthony Garden Apartments start calling 911.
The first two calls were just one second apart, and the third came 24 seconds later, according to a dispatch log.
All three callers reported gunshots.
“In the apartment behind me, there was a lot of gunshots just now,” one neighbor told 911.
“It just came out of nowhere. And it almost sounded like somebody was shooting back but I’m not for sure.”
A dispatcher asked a different neighbor who called when she heard the gunshots.
“I called you as soon as I realized what it was,” the woman said.
At 12:43 a.m., the first call came into dispatch saying an officer had been shot.
Mattingly said he remembered Hankison yelling on the radio that an officer was in trouble.
“10-30,10-30! Officer down! 10-30! Officer shot on Springfield,” one officer called on the radio, according to a copy of the audio obtained by The Courier Journal. “Officer shot on Springfield. 10-30!”
Walker was later arrested and charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer. Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine dismissed charges in late May and called for more investigation.
‘Somebody come help her!’ Kenneth Walker yells
Events moved quickly as the calls came in:
12:44 a.m.: Police call in that they need EMS now and that SWAT is needed at Taylor’s apartment on Springfield Drive.
12:45 a.m.: “Subj is still inside with AR,” a dispatch log said. A recording of calls radioed in, without time markers, included a report apparently from an officer that, “Officers encountered rifle fire.” He adds: “Officer down!”
12:47 a.m.: Walker hears people outside and screams.
“Somebody come help her!” he said. After waiting a few minutes to no avail, Walker calls his mom, and she tells him to, ‘call 911 right now.’
Walker does at 12:47 a.m.
“I don’t know what is happening,” Walker, 28, told a dispatcher. “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”
The dispatcher asked Walker where Taylor was shot.
“I don’t know,” Walker responded, crying. “She’s on the ground right now. I don’t know.”
The dispatcher asked if Taylor is awake and able to speak.
“No, she’s not,” Walker said, then shouted: “Bre!”
The dispatcher asked if Walker could turn her over and see where she was shot.
Walker described seeing blood, and cried out again, “Oh my God!”
Then he hung up. Dispatch tried to call back, but there was no answer. The entire conversation and call back took less than 3 minutes.
‘Come out, come out,’ police tell Kenneth Walker
With police officers descending on Taylor’s apartment complex, Walker stayed inside and called Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. That’s when, he said, he heard her still coughing.
“When I was on the phone with her, that’s when I kind of realized that it was the police because now they’re yelling, like, ‘Come out, come out,'” Walker told investigators.
He added: “What really made me not realize it was the police was because nobody was like rushing in after all this happened. They all like stayed outside, so I’m like, what the heck was that?”
12:47 a.m.: “Any unit to Spring Field need rifels (sic),” a dispatcher logged.
12:48 a.m.: One of Taylor’s neighbors called 911, saying shots were fired next door. Some bullets went into her apartment and shattered her glass door, though no one was injured. The dispatcher told her to stay inside.
12:48 a.m.: The approximate time Taylor died, according to the coroner’s news release and her death certificate.
What does Breonna Taylor’s death certificate say?
Attorneys for Taylor initially claimed she was “shot at least eight times,” according to an April lawsuit, but the death certificate lists her cause of death as five gunshot wounds to the body.
The manner of death checked is “homicide.”
The death certificate notes that an autopsy was performed and that its findings were available to determine the cause of death. It does not say where on Taylor’s body she was struck.
The Courier Journal requested a copy of Taylor’s autopsy report, but the coroner’s office denied the request. The news organization has appealed the denial to the attorney general’s office.
12:54 a.m.: EMS left Springfield with Sgt. Mattingly.
A patient care report released by the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Protection District, which responded to Springfield Drive, states that they were dispatched “to back up” another unit. When PRP Fire arrived, that unit was “backing out of the scene and had (redacted) in their ambulance.”
Two paramedics from PRP Fire got into the Louisville Metro EMS ambulance with Mattingly, according to the report’s narrative, and rode with them to the hospital. Several additional lines are redacted.
Louisville Metro EMS has refused to release similar reports.
12:54 a.m.: Walker prepares to leave the apartment.
12:57 a.m.: “Calling subj out,” according to the dispatch log.
A video taken by one of Taylor’s neighbors showed multiple officers, including several with guns drawn, giving Walker directions.
Walker can be heard crying as officers tell him to “keep walking backwards” and “walk straight down the steps.”
As he got closer, an officer shouted: “Get on your knees!”
1 a.m.: Walker was arrested.
He tells police investigators hours later that officers on-scene to arrest him said he was going to jail for the rest of his life and that a dog was going to be let loose on him.
“They had the dog right there, right behind me, barking. I’m out there with no shoes on, clearly nothing, walking in water and stuff, backwards. And he’s like, ‘I’m going to let this dog on you. You’re going to jail for the rest of your life.’ Look at my record, I don’t even get in trouble. Not violent or anything,” Walker told investigators.
“(An officer) asked me, ‘Were you hit by any bullets?’ I said no. He said, ‘That’s unfortunate,'” Walker adds.
1:10 a.m.: Once in the apartment, roughly 27 minutes after Taylor was shot, police tell dispatch there’s a “F (female) inside with gun kicked under the bed.”
The Courier Journal has requested all dispatch audio relating to the shooting, but Louisville Metro Emergency Services has denied the records, citing an ongoing investigation. The news organization is appealing to the attorney general.
At the same time, records note: “1st Div – family headed to hospital.”
It’s not clear whether it was Taylor’s or Mattingly’s family.
Palmer, Taylor’s mother, has previously said that when she arrived at the apartment, an officer told her an ambulance had already taken a young woman who was hurt to the hospital. Palmer waited at a local hospital for hours but was told Taylor wasn’t there and there was no record of her being transported there.
She drove back to Taylor’s apartment on Springfield Drive and waited hours longer until a detective asked her if Taylor had any enemies or if she and Walker had been having problems.
1:12 a.m.: Two minutes later, Taylor is reported to be “laying on (the) ground in hallway,” according to dispatch. Police request crime-scene tape.
1:46 a.m.: EMS received permission to leave Taylor’s apartment.
3:35 a.m.: Police returned with a second search warrant for Taylor’s apartment.
Inside, they found shell casings and bullets. There was no rifle of any kind located — just Walker’s Glock 43x handgun and a holster on his pants.
Police recovered no drugs.
3:53 a.m.: Walker’s interview with Public Integrity Unit investigators — which would later be used as evidence in the criminal case against him — begins, roughly two hours and ten minutes after he watched his girlfriend’s death.
Mattingly was interviewed 12 days later.
The long-awaited results of the internal investigation examining the officers’ conduct is now in the hands of Attorney General Cameron and the FBI, which will present its findings to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The charges against Walker have since been dismissed. But it is up to Cameron and federal prosecutors to decide what, if any, charges police officers may face in Taylor’s death.
Neither has given any indication when a decision will be made.
Follow Tessa Duvall and Darcy Costello on Twitter: @TessaDuvall and @dctello.