“There is a reasonable basis to believe that misinformation has been presented to the general public regarding the usage of body cameras by several members of the LMPD,” the lawsuit states.
The Louisville Metro Police Department said Saturday evening that it had no comment. The mayor’s office did not responded to requests for comment.
Sam Aguiar, an attorney representing Taylor’s family, told The Post the public deserved to know whether additional footage existed for a case in which three White plainclothes officers — Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly — fired 32 shots into Taylor’s apartment on March 13, 2020, as part of an investigation of a suspected drug operation allegedly linked to her ex-boyfriend. Although Hankison and Cosgrove were fired and Mattingly retired last month, no one has been charged directly for Taylor’s death — an incident that helped spark racial justice demonstrations across the United States. Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing bullets that penetrated an adjacent apartment, charges for which he has pleaded not guilty.
None of the officers are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Aguiar, who requested in the lawsuit that a judge order the police department to release body-camera information under the state’s public records law, criticized Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D) for his administration’s handling of a case that the attorney says has been plagued by “deception, lies and coverups.”
“They’ve lied since day one and haven’t stopped,” Aguiar said in a statement to The Post. “And they’re not being forthright and candid about body cameras.” He told CNN, “Breonna’s family has a right to the records.”
The lawsuit seeking body-camera footage comes months after the Justice Department announced it was opening a civil investigation of Louisville police to determine whether local authorities have engaged in systemic abuses and unlawful tactics with little accountability. The federal investigation is separate from an ongoing criminal civil rights probe into Taylor’s death.
Louisville agreed to a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family last year, which was reportedly among the largest payouts for a police killing in the country’s history. As part of the settlement, the city vowed to implement a number of changes in how local officers obtain and execute search warrants. An internal investigator later found that two police officers whose shots struck and killed Taylor never should have fired their weapons — a conclusion the force’s upper brass partly rejected.
Although Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) and police have said body-camera footage of the incident does not exist, authorities did release video from officers taken at the scene after the fatal shooting.
The legal team for Taylor’s family says officers involved in the no-knock raid had been issued Axon body cameras programmed to activate automatically in circumstances such as during and after the shooting. The lawsuit says lights from police vehicles near Taylor’s apartment could have triggered the department-owned body cameras to begin recording, and “most of the vehicles” at the scene had their light bars activated.
“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 says. “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 legal action came after Aguiar’s request for information about footage last month went unanswered, the lawsuit says. The information requested would help figure out key details about the footage, such as the time of the recordings and identities of who accessed the footage, according to the lawsuit. That kind of information, the lawsuit says, “should assist in verifying whether Metro has been truthful to the public regarding the existence of footage.”
“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,” the complaint says.
Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, told ABC News the lawsuit into potential footage is the latest avenue the family hopes will bring justice nearly 16 months after Taylor’s death.
“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. “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.”