Ali Bouldin, Contributing Writer, Chicago Defender
In conjunction with The Courier-Journal, ABC News 20/20 aired the investigative documentary, “Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor.” Friday, November 20. Releasing never-before-seen bodycam footage and interviews, the two-hour documentary examined the case of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. Louisville Metro Police Officers killed Breonna as they attempted to execute a search warrant on March 13, 2020.
Breonna Taylor and Her Mother, Tamika Palmer
“To know her is to love her,” Tamika Palmer tells ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts while sharing videos and pictures of her daughter. “She’s so much like me, but she’s so much better than me,” Palmer added. “She loved to set these goals for herself no matter what it was; you wouldn’t be able to tell her nothing.”
“She’s the star of the show,” Breonna’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker says. “She just kept everybody going at all times.” Walker was with Breonna the night the LMPD stormed into Breonna’s single bedroom apartment unannounced. “There was this loud knock at the door,” Walker recalls. “Breonna asked who it was, but she never got a reply.” As Walker and Breonna prepared to see who banged on the door in the middle of the night, Walker says there was another loud bang. As told to ABC News, Kenneth Walker, a legal gun-owner, said it was too late for anyone to knock at the door. “So, I grab my gun. Protect Breonna, protect myself. That’s what was going through my head. When we got to the doorway of the bedroom, the front door flies open,” Walker says.
Walker then fired off a single shot. In return, LMPD fired over 30-rounds into Breonna’s apartment. Deja Moore, Breonna’s next-door neighbor, tells ABC News that the sound of police discharging their weapons was like a scene in a movie. “It was boom boom boom,” Moore says. “There was a short break. Someone yelled reload. Then they start firing again.”
“There was just a hail of gunfire,” Walker recalls. “I grabbed Breonna and dropped to the ground. We were holding hands as we went down. She was scared, and so was I.” Walker says Breonna cried out at some point during the gunfire. “I assume she had either got hit, or she was scared. Either way, she screamed. That’s the last sound that she made.”
Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly says that he and the six other officers that arrived at Breonna’s residence announced themselves several times before forcefully entering the apartment. In a Good Morning America interview with Michael Strahan. Mattingly stated that he believed Breonna Taylor would still be alive if they would have stormed in instead of knocking.
Breonna was shot multiple times as LMPD riddle Breonna’s apartment and nearby apartments with bullets. After the shooting stopped, Walker remembered holding Breonna as he called 911. “I don’t even know what’s happening. Walkers tell the 911 dispatcher in the recorded audio. “Someone kicked down the door and shot my girlfriend. I don’t know. She’s on the ground right now. Help! Oh, my God. Breonna, Help!”
In the newly released bodycam footage that aired during the ABC 20/20 News special, Walker is seen confused and afraid as police command Walker to come out with his hands up. “What is going on?” Walker is heard saying. “What did I do?” A police officer asks, “Have you been shot?”. Walker replies, “No” to which the police officer says, “How unfortunate”.
Former Louisville police Detective Brett Hankinson, who shot 10 times into the apartment, replied, “You are going to f*** prison. That’s what’s going on. For the rest of your f*** life.” Additional footage shows Walker crying out, “My girlfriend is dead,” as he’s handcuffed and led away. “I don’t give a s*** keep walking,” an officer can be heard saying in additional bodycam footage.
Through their joint investigation, ABC News and The Courier-Journal learned that LMPD executed multiple search warrants that night. With JaMarcus Glover, Breonna’s ex-boyfriend, as the primary target. By the time officers arrived at Taylor’s residence, Glover had already been taken into custody. Police surveillance of JaMarcus Glover revealed that Glover had visited Breonna a month before they raided her home. And that he frequently used Breonna’s address to receive mail.
In an interview with The Courier-Journal, Glover told journalist Phillip Bailey that he never had anything illegal sent to Breonna’s apartment and used the address for online shopping. “Nothing, Nothing ever been illegal there. Shoes and clothes coming through the mail is not illegal,” Glover said. “I’m not bringing no box, she’s not bringing me no box, none of it. She’s not bringing nothing.”
No drugs or money were ever found in Breonna’s apartment. And none of the officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor has been charged. In rare footage of the Grand Jury proceedings obtained by ABC News. An investigator tells the jurors that they will not be shown all of the videos because of time. Juror 3 then replies, “We got time.”
“I felt like if I was going to give my best judgment as a juror. I needed to be presented with all the evidence. And they didn’t,” Juror 3 tells ABC News in the exclusive interview. When Deborah Roberts asked if there should have been more charges, the juror replied, “I thought there should have been murder charges.”
In the eight months since Breonna Taylor’s death, her name has become a rallying cry. A call for justice and police reform. The Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council passed new legislation titled Breonna’s Law. Banning no-knock raids and requiring all officers to used body-camera when executing search warrants.
“It’s amazing to have all these people standing up for her and chanting her name,” Tamika Palmer said. “I always knew she would be great. I hate that she had to die to be great.”
Ali Bouldin is a journalist in the Chicagoland area with articles in multiple black entertainment publications. Follow his Instagram at @Ali.Bouldin.