Kentucky‘s Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine announced that his office was dismissing the pending case against Kenneth Walker for the attempted homicide of a police officer.
Walker and Breonna Taylor were sleeping at her apartment when police arrived to serve a no-knock warrant, according to the Courier Journal. Walker said they believed intruders were trying to break in, so he shot once at the people entering. Police responded with 22 shots, eight of which killed Taylor, a Louisville EMT.
Although Walker’s lawyer, Rob Eggert, says Walker thought he was shooting at intruders, Walker actually shot Officer Jonathan Mattingly who was with two other police officers — Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — to serve the no-knock warrant between midnight and 1 a.m. At the press conference, Wine said the bullet pierced Mattingly’s femoral artery. Shortly after the incident, Walker was charged with the attempted murder of a police officer.
Walker was released and put under house arrest, but still faced the charges. However, new evidence regarding the no-knock warrant which was used as well as some of the officers’ history of conduct led to calls for a more thorough investigation. On Friday, Wine announced that the commonwealth planned on changing course.
“I am directing that our office file a motion and present it to Judge Olu Stevens, the presiding judge in this case, that this case, the pending indictment, be dismissed. I believe that the independent investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Kentucky, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office must be completed before we go forward with any prosecution of Kenneth Walker.” he said during a press conference held May 22. “I believe that that additional investigation is necessary.”
Wine also said he may bring another case to the grand jury, where Walker could also testify. The Huffington Post has pointed out that the nature of no-knock search warrants has been pitted against Kentucky’s stand-your-ground laws, which may make those types of warrants inherently dangerous to serve.
“It certainly does create a problem,” Wine said.
Wine’s Decision To Dismiss The Case Was A Response To A Motion From Kenneth Walker’s Lawyer
At his press conference, Wine offered condolences to Taylor’s mother.
I do want to offer my serious condolences to Miss Tamika Palmer, who is the mother of Breonna Taylor. I’m sorry Miss Palmer that you lost your daughter. And my hope is, based on some of the comments that I’ve seen, that you and your family and your faith community are rallying behind you to provide you with comfort.
Wine also said the mayor and Louisville Metro Police Department were reviewing changes as to how they execute warrants.
However, Wine disputed a motion for dismissal of the charges Eggert had filed. In the motion, Eggert alleged that the police had “woefully misled” the Grand Jury that indicted Walker and prosecutors had acted unethically in presenting that misleading evidence. However, Wine said that was not true:
Today we have filed a response to the motion; I want to say that I strongly disagree with Mr. Eggert’s analysis of the law. There was no misleading testimony by the detectives in this case nor were there any ethical breaches by the prosecutors. However, I do agree with him that more should have been presented to the Grand Jury, including the statement made by Kenneth Walker.
At dispute is whether Walker knew police officers were on the other side of the door.
Wine Says Police Knocked Before Entering the Home, Walker’s Lawyer Says Police Never Identified Themselves
According to USA Today, police requested a no-knock warrant for Taylor’s home, which means police are not legally required to identify immediately themselves when they enter the property.
However, Lt. Ted Eidem of LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit said that police made themselves known when they arrived at Taylor’s home: “Officers knocked on their door several times and announced themselves as police who were there with a search warrant,” he said.
At the press conference, Wine echoed those words. Wine also played an audiotape of Walker in which Walker said he could hear knocking but not who was speaking on the other side and he also said that he didn’t know they were police.
According to the recording, Walker said he believed it could have been an ex-boyfriend and they called out but there was no response:
First thing [Taylor] said was, ‘Who is it?’ No response. ‘Who is it?’ loud, at the top of her lungs, no response. So I’m like what the heck? So I grab my gun, it’s legal, I have a license to carry, I’ve never even fired my gun outside of a range. There’s another knock at the door, she’s yelling at the top of her lungs, and I am too, at this point, ‘Who is it?’
Wine — who has long refuted accusations that police did not knock — said it’s possible Walker was being truthful.
“When you look at it and you think what separated these two parties was a door, it’s very possible that there was no criminal activity on either side of that door because people couldn’t hear what the other party was saying,” Wine said.
National civil rights attorney Ben Crump, an attorney representing Taylor’s family, said he had four witnesses who said police did not announce themselves.
“(Four witnesses) were neighbors and the police never announced themselves. They did not identify themselves and they were in plain clothes and so what is Breonna Taylor and Kenny Walker to think at 1 o’clock in the morning when somebody breaches their castle?” Crump said.
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