North Texas legal experts question what led to Breonna Taylor shooting

An FBI investigation continues into Breonna Taylor’s death in Louisville, Kentucky.

Some believe that investigation might hone in on the evidence officers had — or lacked — before obtaining the warrant that led to the shooting.             

Two North Texas experts in law and policing say they’re not surprised by the grand jury decision. But both have questions about what led to the warrant and forced entry, which sparked the shootout.                       

The long-awaited decision by the grand jury was not a surprise to some who have closely followed the case.

Breonna Taylor: 1 officer indicted for firing into neighboring apartments

Eric Cedillo is a clinical professor of law at SMU.

“It’s a situation where I believe taking the facts into consideration, they felt it was justifiable,” he said.

An undated photo shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

An undated photo shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

Cedillo says in most states an officer returning fire after they have been shot — as Louisville Officer Jon Mattingly was — could be considered justified depending on the facts.

“He was hit in the thigh and it was the first shot. He didn’t fire the first shot,” Cedillo said. “So taking that into consideration, I would imagine that in just about any context you’re going to find that returning fire in almost any state is going to be justified.”

But many questions remain, like what facts did the state's attorney general choose to present to the grand jury. It could provide key context to the moments and days leading up to the shooting resulting in officers busting down the door into Breonna Taylor's apartment.

Taylor’s boyfriend, a licensed gun owner, fired his gun in response saying he didn't know who was coming in. The officers say they announced themselves, and the Kentucky AG says there was witness corroboration about that.

“Breonna had no priors and no history of violence in any context,” Cedillo said. “So why not wait for her to come to the door and give ample time to respond?”

Former Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowman also wants to know more about what happened leading up to the shooting.

“I would really want to know a lot more about the preparation leading up to the execution to that warrant,” he said. “Those are my primary outstanding questions.”

Some reports have said the officers believed Taylor was alone in the apartment.

“I sure question why forced entry was necessary if they believe she was unarmed, if they believed that there were no hazards to the officers if they thought she was there alone,” Bowman said. “I question why that might have been the case.”

It’s especially important when Bowman says officers need to be focused on de-escalation in their interactions with the community.

“Police officers now in every interaction with members of the community should be thinking de-escalation,” Bowman said. “For example, they should go into that interaction looking for ways to bring down the anxiety, to bring down the temperature of that engagement.”

Kentucky's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear is urging the state's Republican attorney general to post online all evidence that can be released without affecting the charges filed.