Lawyers for Breonna Taylor’s family sue police over existence of body camera footage
Family of Breonna Taylor
(LOUISVILLE) — An attorney representing the family of Breonna Taylor filed a lawsuit on Wednesday 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.
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.
On the evening of March 13, 2020, Louisville police officers fatally shot Taylor, 26, during an attempt to execute a “no-knock” search warrant as part of an investigation into a suspected drug operation allegedly linked to Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. Three plainclothes officers — Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly — fired a total of 32 shots into Taylor’s apartment.
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. He has pleaded not guilty.
Louisville Metro police have said in the past that body camera footage of the shooting does not exist, as officers on scene were not wearing the cameras or had them turned off. Police body camera footage taken at the scene after the shooting has been released by authorities.
The lawsuit filed by an attorney for Taylor’s family is requesting that a judge order the Louisville Metro Police Department to release body camera information under Kentucky’s Open Records Act.
“Breonna’s family has a right to the records,” Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar told ABC News in a statement. “The public has a right to the records.”
“I’m just tired of the administration playing their games when it comes to open records,” Aguiar continued in the statement. “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,” he added.
According to the 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. “Most of the vehicles” at the scene had light bars activated, the suit states.
“At least one of the responding LMPD members” who was involved in the raid and “dozens of other LMPD members” who responded in police vehicles had light bars that were activated at one point or another, the suit adds.
“Simply put, 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” during the raid, 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.”
The Louisville Metro Police Department did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the lawsuit.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, who has advocated for justice in her daughter’s case, said she will “continue that fight today” with the lawsuit.
“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,” Palmer said in a statement provided to 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.”
The lawsuit claims that LMPD still has not turned over an audit trail of the footage from the body cameras, as requested by Aguiar’s office on June 1.
The audit trail would identify key details, including time of the recordings, the user and the identity of anyone who accessed the footage, according to the lawsuit.
That information “should assist in verifying whether Metro has been truthful to the public regarding the existence of footage,” it adds.
The lawsuit says the public has “an uncompromised right to know whether undisclosed body camera footage exists, or otherwise previously existed, from LMPD Axon Cameras which related to the events surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor.”
ABC News’ Marlene Lenthang contributed to this report.
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