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Lawsuit says police may have lied about Breonna Taylor body camera footage

Attorney Sam Aguiar alleges several officers involved in the fatal raid were assigned body cameras. He said the department is not complying with his open records request.
Image: Breonna Taylor memorial
A man pauses at the memorial for Breonna Taylor before a march in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 25.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters file

An attorney for Breonna Taylor's family filed a lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department alleging several officers involved in the fatal raid had been assigned body cameras and the agency may have lied about the existence of footage.

Sam Aguiar said in the complaint that he has not received body camera information that he requested from police. He wants a judge to order the department to release it.

Taylor was fatally shot by police on March 13, 2020, after officers executed a no-knock warrant at her apartment as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found in the home, her family said in a previous lawsuit that was settled with the city for $12 million.

Officers opened fire after Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a single shot toward the door believing it was an intruder. The 26-year-old's killing sparked nationwide protests.

Three officers — Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — were involved in Taylor's death, according to police. Hankison was fired by the department in June 2020, police said, and was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for bullets that went into a neighboring apartment. He has pleaded not guilty and a trial is set for next year.

None of the officers involved were charged with killing Taylor.

Earlier this year, the police department said it had fired Cosgrove and another officer, Joshua Jaynes. An attorney for Jaynes, who was accused of lying on the application seeking the warrant for the raid, said his client would appeal to a city board that reviews police terminations. Mattingly retired from the department last month.

The lawsuit said many Louisville officers "recorded their law enforcement activities on their body cameras." It went on to say Cosgrove, Mattingly, Hankison and two other officers involved had body cameras assigned to them prior to the raid.

The officers are not named as defendants in the suit. They could not be reached for comment Friday.

According to the filing, the cameras can either be activated manually or automatically activated when the light bars of a police vehicle are turned on. Many of the police vehicles at Taylor's home the night of the raid had their light bars on, including Cosgrove's unmarked cruiser, the lawsuit stated.

"Simply put, it would have been difficult for most of the LMPD members with body cameras and who were associated with ... events at Breonna’s ... to not have had their Axon body cameras activated at one point or another," it said.

The suit said they believe "misinformation has been presented to the general public regarding the usage of body cameras" on that night.

"The plaintiffs, and the public, have an uncompromised right to know whether undisclosed body camera footage exists, or otherwise previously existed, from LMPD Axon Cameras which relates to the events surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor," it said.

The suit said Aguiar requested body camera information from police and has not yet received it. He asked that a judge order the department to release the information.

Police have previously said the shooting was not captured on video because some officers with the criminal interdiction division, which executed the warrant, do not wear body cameras. Cosgrove was pictured wearing a body camera harness the night of the raid but has said there was no device in it, according to the lawsuit.

In October, the police department released files from its internal investigation that contained video from officers who were on the scene. Mattingly's attorney also previously released a 44-second video showing the moments after he had been shot in the leg during the raid.

The Louisville Metro Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit. "Although we appreciate the opportunity, LMPD does not comment on pending litigation," a spokesperson said in a statement Friday.