LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Louisville Metro Police SWAT commander who arrived at Breonna Taylor’s apartment shortly after she was fatally shot by officers testified that he believed the raid was "an egregious act."
Lt. Dale Massey told police investigators that he "had no idea" there was going to be a raid of Taylor’s apartment. Based on what he and other members saw at the scene, "we just got the feeling that night, you know, um, something really bad happened," he said.
Massey spoke to the police department's Public Integrity Unit on May 19, more than two months after the March 13 shooting. He told the investigators, Sgt. Jason Vance and Sgt. Jeremy Ruoff, that SWAT had been informed about a month before the Taylor raid about a planned series of simultaneous raids connected to a narcotics investigation of Jamarcus Glover, whom Taylor had previously dated.
But Massey said he didn't hear a mention of Taylor's Springfield Drive apartment during the police briefing before the raids, led by the department’s Criminal Interdiction Unit. In his experience, Massey said, it is common for all locations to be included in those briefings.
"We should have knowledge of what they’re doing,” Massey said. "We – we treat safety very important, right? So, like simultaneous warrants, they’re bad business. Somethin’ goes down like we just saw, who – who’s there to provide armor … So, like, to us, we need to be briefed on everything."
He said that if he had known that Taylor's apartment was the focus of a warrant, "I would’ve advised them 100 percent not to do it until we were done doin’ what we had to do," according to a transcript of Massey's testimony to investigators obtained by WDRB News.
Massey and other SWAT members were at Glover’s home on Elliott Avenue serving a warrant when, he recalled, "We hear, 'Shots fired.' Um, so we’re like, 'Wait a second. Shots fired. Is everybody good?'
"… We’re, like, 'What are you talkin' about?' You know, again back to the point that we had no idea they were doin’ a warrant the same day they were.”
It took about 20 to 25 minutes for SWAT members to drive from the Elliott Avenue house in the Russell neighborhood to Taylor's apartment complex near Pleasure Ridge Park, Massey said.
After he arrived at Taylor’s apartment, Massey described a "chaotic scene" where officers who fired their weapons were still walking around the scene instead of being isolated, as required under the department’s standard operating procedures.
For example, Det. Myles Cosgrove, who Attorney General Daniel Cameron said fired the fatal shot that killed Taylor, was giving information to Massey and "had a rifle slung so I assumed just having a rifle slung that he was there after the fact."
When he learned Cosgrove was involved in the shooting, "I was like, 'Man, get him outta the mix.' Cause he was still in the mix doin' stuff. I was like, 'Get him separated from everybody."
Asked if Cosgrove was removed from the scene, Massey said, "I don't think so."
And Massey said he initially thought shots were fired at officers from inside the apartment, but then realized that police shot into Taylor’s apartment through the sliding glass door in the living room and her bedroom window – and both had the blinds drawn, meaning officers were firing blindly.
"Probably the two most important things, as far as when you fire your weapon … like you have to know A, what you’re shooting at, B, what’s in front of it and … what’s behind it and there’s no other way you can operate," Massey told the investigators.
The Public Integrity Unit handles officer shootings and probes possible criminal actions by police.
After debriefing and looking at how the raid was handled, Massey said "it was just an a- egregious act,” he told the investigators. "… It seemed like the – there was no target identification whatsoever for those rounds that were shot outside the apartment."
Last week, a Jefferson County grand jury charged former Louisville police Det. Brett Hankison with three felony counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a nearby apartment during the raid.
Interim Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder fired Hankison in July saying his "actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life" and that he "blindly" fired ten rounds into Taylor's apartment.
Neither Hankison nor the two other officers who fired their weapons — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Cosgrove — were indicted in Taylor's death. Taylor was killed by one of Cosgrove's bullets, according to FBI ballistics findings released by.
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room tech and former EMT, was struck six times.
Cameron told reporters that his office and the grand jury both agreed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were "justified" in returning a shot fired first by Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend. Walker, who was standing in the apartment's hallway, has said he believed police were intruders breaking into the apartment before 1 a.m.
In the request for a search warrant, police claim they believed Glover was using Taylor’s apartment on Springfield Drive to receive mail and "avoid detection from law enforcement."
Det. Joshua Jaynes wrote that he believed Glover may be "keeping narcotics and/or proceeds from the sale of narcotics" at Taylor’s apartment.
During a recorded jail call after the raid, Glover said Taylor was "hanging onto my money" for him, claiming she had about $14,000 – and that he could walk into her home and find it.
A search warrant from March 13 that shows items police seized from the apartment — such as cell phones and shell casings — and does not list any money or drugs.
In another phone call he made from jail on the same day, Glover told his sister that another woman had been keeping the group’s money.
Massey said the "ultimate goal is we don’t wanna – we don't want to get hurt, innocent people and even the bad guys. … Like, that’s - $14,000 isn’t worth it, any amount of dope's not worth it either."
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