Breonna Taylor memorial
Fans and flowers lie on a table for attendees at a candlelight vigil for Breonna Taylor marking the one year anniversary of her killing by Louisville Police officers, 13 Mar 2021. (Allison Bailey/Shutterstock)

Breonna Taylor’s Family Sue Police for Access to Previously Undisclosed Body Camera Footage

The battle for justice for Breonna Taylor, the young Black woman killed during a no-knock raid on her apartment in Louisville in 2020, continues.

In the latest twist in the case, Kiara Brantley-Jones and Sabina Ghebremedhin of ABC News have reported that an attorney representing the family of Breonna Taylor has filed a lawsuit “claiming that the Louisville Metro Police Department may have given the public ‘misinformation’ about the existence of body camera footage from before and after the raid of Taylor’s home.”

According to Brantley-Jones and Ghebremedhin, “the lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, claims police are withholding public records that would show whether there is additional body camera footage that could provide more details about the night Taylor was killed by police.”

Taylor was at home in her apartment on the evening of March 13, 2020, when Louisville police officers burst in unannounced, attempting to execute a “no-knock” search warrant as part of an investigation centered around Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. The three plainclothes officers involved in the attack — Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly — ultimately fired more than 30 shots into Taylor’s apartment, killing her in the process of their “investigation.”

“To date, no one has been charged directly for her death, but Hankison and Cosgrove were fired for the incident, and Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots that entered a neighbor’s apartment,” Brantley-Jones and Ghebremedhin wrote. “He has pleaded not guilty.”

In statements made to the press and general public, Louisville Metro police have claimed that no body camera footage of the shooting exists, with officers saying that they were “not wearing” their cameras that night or saying that they had previously “turned them off.” (Body camera footage taken after Taylor’s murder has been released by local authorities.)

However, in this new lawsuit, advocates representing the Taylor family have asked a judge to force the Louisville Metro Police Department to release any remaining body camera information that might exist as part of Kentucky’s Open Records Act.

Attorney Sam Aguiar told ABC News that “Breonna’s family has a right to the records. The public has a right to the records. I’m just tired of the administration playing their games when it comes to open records. No mother who lost a child should have to be lied to and deceived in the manner that this administration has done. So, we’re going to rely upon the Court system here to try and put these games to rest.”

According to Aguiar’s lawsuit, “several officers involved in the raid had been issued Axon body cameras with upgraded systems designed to signal nearby cameras to record automatically when a police vehicle’s light bar turns on.”

Because “most of the vehicles” on scene had its light bars activated the night of the raid, “it would have been difficult for most of the LMPD members with body cameras … to not have had their Axon body cameras activated at one point or another,” the lawsuit states. “Even those who may have left cameras in vehicles or other locations should have been activated to an event mode from a buffering mode, so long as the camera was within range of Signal unit.”

In a statement, Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said she will continue to fight for justice for her daughter, whose life was wrongfully taken that night.

“From day one, my goal has been to learn the truth about what happened to my daughter, Breonna Taylor, and to hold those accountable for her murder responsible,” she told ABC News. “I, along with my family and the public, have a right to know if additional body camera footage exists, and the information sought through this open records lawsuit will give us this information.”

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