Key witness in Breonna Taylor case changed his story about police actions: report

Witness Aarin Sarpee, whose account played a critical role in AG Daniel Cameron's decision not to bring charges against officers for Taylor's death, originally said officers did not announce themselves

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When Louisville police officers executed a no-knock search warrant that led to the March killing of Breonna Taylor in her apartment, investigators found one witness who said they heard what happened when gunfire broke out.

That witness initially said officers did not announce themselves before changing his story months afterwards, according to reporting by Vice News.

Aarin Sarpee, the witness, was visiting the complex when officers arrived to Taylor’s unit. Sarpee stopped by his brother’s apartment, a unit above Taylor’s residence, to pick us his daughter from a visit to her uncle. The officer’s bullets struck and killed Taylor after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, suspected that someone was breaking into her apartment and fired a single shot toward the door.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during a press conference to announce a grand jury’s decision to indict one of three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor on September 23, 2020 in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

READ MORE: Cop involved in Breonna Taylor shooting threatens legal action for being called a ‘murderer’

Walker stated that the police did not announce themselves as law enforcement upon executing the raid and fired his gun out of self-defense to intruders, according to his attorney.

Sarpee was interviewed by Public Integrity Unit (PIU) investigators of the Louisville Metro Police Department a week after the incident. During a recorded interview, obtained by the news outlet, Sarpee disclosed that he saw the cops show up at Taylor’s door.

Breonna Taylor thegrio.com
Breonna Taylor is pictured in an undated photo. (Credit: Instagram/@keyanna.guifarro)

“I saw the uniform on them, so I know when I looked through the window I saw it was a lot of police car,” Sarpee said in the March 21 interview. He said he also saw an armored car in front of the apartment prior to the confrontation.

The interviewer then asked if he heard anyone identify themselves as police, to which Sarpee replied, “No. Nobody identified [themselves].”

READ MORE: Heartbreak in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death and still holding hope for justice

However, on May 15, PIU investigator Sgt. Amanda Seeyle interviewed Sarpee again, and he changed the story, saying that the police said when arriving to the apartment, “This is the cops.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron stated in a press conference Thursday that a witness stated that the officers identified themselves prior to entering the apartment. Cameron said the officers were justified in the use of force to defend themselves, pinning the decision to not bring additional charges against the officers on the lone witness testimony.

None of the three officers involved in the raid were charged in Taylor’s killing, but a third, Brett Hankison, was charged with wanton endangerment for firing his weapon and putting other residences at risk, according to The New York Times.

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