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Protesters march through downtown Louisville after a grand jury decided not to bring homicide charges against police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky on Sept. 25, 2020.

LAWRENCE BRYANT/Reuters

Two long-rifle shell casings were found in and near Breonna Taylor’s Louisville apartment after a botched police drug raid that ended in Taylor’s death, Kentucky’s attorney general said.

It’s the first time these specific shell casings have been mentioned by authorities investigating Taylor’s death. One of the casings was found by Taylor’s sister in her bedroom and the other was found in the parking lot outside the apartment, according to a court filing this week in a criminal case against the sole Louisville police officer charged in connection with the raid.

The FBI has both shell casings “for purposes of testing,” according to the court filing.

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Taylor was fatally shot by police on March 13 after they used a narcotics warrant to break down her door. Officers fired 32 rounds after Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot that struck an officer.

The notice of the two shell casings was filed this week by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office as exculpatory evidence in fired Officer Brett Hankison’s case. Exculpatory evidence is information that could be considered favourable to the defendant.

The one-page filing does not say why the shell casings would be favourable to Hankison’s defence. Hankison was dismissed from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June for shooting blindly into the apartment, endangering Taylor’s neighbours.

Cameron made no mention of the two long-rifle casings at a September news conference announcing the indictment against Hankison. Cameron said 32 shots were fired by officers at the scene, all from .40-calibre handguns. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot from his 9 mm handgun, wounding Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg. Mattingly, and another officer, Myles Cosgrove, returned fire, striking Taylor five times. The shots fired by Hankison did not strike Taylor, according to Cameron.

Walker had previously filed a lawsuit against Louisville police. On Friday, Mattingly countersued for his injury during the raid.

Taylor’s sister, who lived in the apartment with Taylor, found one of the long-rifle shell casings behind a storage chest in Taylor’s bedroom, according to the court filing. The other was found in the parking lot by a man visiting the complex on March 13, hours after the early morning shooting, according to the filing.

Hankison’s attorney, Stewart Matthews, told WDRB-TV in Louisville that he doesn’t know where the shell casings came from.

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“I don’t know that there is any importance” to them, he said.

In his counterclaim to Walker’s lawsuit, Mattingly says he suffered “battery, assault and emotional distress” caused by Walker. Walker told investigators he fired his gun because he didn’t know officers were at the door and he thought an intruder was breaking in.

“Mattingly was shot and nearly killed by Kenneth Walker,” the officer’s attorney, Kent Wicker, said in a news release. “He’s entitled to, and should use the legal process to seek a remedy for the injury that Walker has caused him.”

Mattingly’s court filing asserts that he and Cosgrove are protected from being sued because they were performing “discretionary acts in good faith” as police officers. Mattingly asked that Walker’s claim against him be dismissed.

Walker’s attorney, Steve Romines, said Friday that Mattingly’s counterclaim was the “latest in a cycle of police aggression, deflection of responsibility, and obstruction of the facts.”

“We intend to defend Kenny – once again – from baseless charges intended to harm, intimidate, and cover up the events of March 13, 2020,” Romines said in an emailed statement.

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Last week, Mattingly said in his first interview with the news media that Taylor “didn’t deserve to die” in the raid.

In the counterclaim, Mattingly said when the door was breached, he saw “Walker standing, with gun raised, in a shooting position” and then he shot Mattingly in the thigh. After shooting, “Walker fell to the floor and hid, avoiding being hit by any bullet coming into the residence,” the counterclaim said.

“Tragically, Ms. Breonna Taylor, who had been standing by Walker, was struck by the return gunfire and died of her injuries,” it said.

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