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Lawsuit Demands Body Camera Info From Breonna Taylor Raid

A lawyer for Breonna Taylor’s family is questioning whether the Louisville Metro Police Department is being honest about body camera footage from the deadly middle-of-the-night raid on Breonna Taylor’s home.

Sam Aguiar filed a lawsuit against LMPD on Wednesday, asking the court to compel the agency to release the “audit trails” of any body cam footage from the search on March 13, 2020. The audit trails would reveal “the time of the footage recordings, the user, the device name, the device ID, the serial number, the identity of those accessing the footage” and other information, according to the lawsuit. It alleges Axon Cameras, the contractor who manages body cams for LMPD, collects all of that information automatically when cameras are docked and footage is uploaded.

“It is critical to know whether local government is being honest with the community regarding issuance and usage of body cameras,” Aguiar wrote in the lawsuit. 

Aguiar says one of his associates filed an open records request for the audit trails on June 1, 2021, and that LMPD has yet to turn over any records or deny the request. The lawsuit alleges that LMPD acknowledged the records request on June 11, but asked for a three week extension on June 14. That extension ended on July 6 without any further communication.

Kentucky law normally gives public agencies three days to respond to an open records request. That was changed to ten days during the pandemic. Aguiar says that LMPD’s lack of timely response means it’s out of compliance with the Open Records Act.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD officials have both said previously that officers at Taylor’s apartment did not have body cams.

Aguiar doubts that claim. In the lawsuit, he says a previous open records request found that at least four officers who were at Taylor’s apartment when she was killed — Michael Campbell, Anthony James, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove — had been issued body cams by LMPD prior to that night. 

Aguiar argues that the Axon Flex 2 model issued to those officers activates automatically when a nearby police cruiser has its emergency lights on. The lawsuit alleges there were multiple marked and unmarked vehicles with flashing lights at the scene that night.

“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,” Aguiar writes in the suit.

The officers’ lack of body cameras during the raid on Taylor’s home was subject to scrutiny during the racial justice protests last year. Mayor Fischer promised to change LMPD policy to make cameras “available for serving warrants, and other situations when they will be identifying themselves as police officers.” 

Photos of the officers obtained by WDRB showed at least one was wearing a body cam, casting doubt on Fischer’s and former Police Chief Steve Conrad’s statements.

A spokesperson for LMPD said the agency does not discuss pending litigation.

The lawsuit asks a court to order the agency to immediately hand over the audit trails.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.