Kentucky attorney general says he did not present homicide charges to grand jury in Breonna Taylor case
The Kentucky attorney general said Tuesday that he did not recommend homicide charges to the grand jury considering evidence in the death of Breonna Taylor, hours after a juror's attorney said the attorney general "may not have presented" all the evidence.
"They're an independent body," Attorney General Daniel Cameron told WDRB, speaking about the jury. "If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that. Butour recommendation was that [Sgt. Jonathan] Mattingly and [Detective Myles] Cosgrove were justified in their acts, in their conduct."
Cameron, a Republican, added that prosecutors were transparent with the grand jury that the one witness who said he heard police announce themselves during the fatal drug raid had changed his story.
At a news conference Tuesday, Kevin Glogower, who represents the unidentified grand juror, said he could not detail what evidence may have been missing from the jury proceedings until a recording of the proceedings is released and his client is allowed to speak about the process.
But Glogower said Cameron framed responsibility for the charging decision differently Monday than when he announced it last week. Cameron initially said the jury agreed with prosecutors that the only warranted charges were for wanton endangerment against one officer, but he later said those charges were the only indictments his office recommended.
"The primary concern that our client has is, if you watched the press conference after the reading of the indictment, the attorney general laid a lot of responsibility at the grand jurors' feet," Glogower said. "If you look at the statement that the attorney general's office released yesterday, they attempted to walk that back."
Cameron in a statement released Monday said his team presented "a thorough and complete case" to the grand jury even though, he said, evidence showed that two of the three officers who fired their weapons during the raid were justified in doing so after Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot first. Walker has said he believed the officers were intruders.
"Our prosecutors presented all of the evidence, even though the evidence supported that Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker," Cameron said. "For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment."
Cameron said he will release a recording of the grand jury proceedings Wednesday on a judge's order, despite concerns that the release could compromise an ongoing FBI investigation and have other repercussions, such as biasing potential jurors. During an arraignment Monday for Brett Hankison, the former officer charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, a judge ordered that a recording of the grand jury proceedings in the case be added to the court file by noon Wednesday.
Neither Mattingly nor Cosgrove, the two Louisville police officers who shot Taylor in her home during a nighttime raid in March, were indicted, while Hankison was charged with recklessly endangering neighbors. The outcome fueled protests and calls for transparency in a case that has sowed public distrust and become a rallying cry in protests over police killings of Black Americans.
Attorneys for Taylor's family as well as state and local leaders, including Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, have urged Cameron to make the secretive grand jury process public as questions mount over last week's charging announcement. Leaked evidence, obtained by Vice News and not independently verified by The Washington Post, suggests that Louisville SWAT members sounded alarms about the raid before it was carried out, that police department procedures may not have been followed after the shooting and that a witness who said he heard police announce themselves before entering Taylor's apartment may have changed his story.
In a court motion urging the release of the grand jury proceedings, the juror says Cameron was "using grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility" for the charging decisions, weakening public trust in the process.
The juror also pointed to concern that Cameron "would attempt to utilize the court's contempt powers . . . if there was a public disclosure that contradicted certain things that he stated happened during the proceedings, characterized the singularity of the decision in a different light, or raised doubts about charges that were presented during the proceedings."
Glogower said Cameron's statement Monday did not fully account for what prosecutors told the grand jury. He cautioned that the recording of the grand jury proceedings may not answer all questions and said it is imperative that jurors be allowed to speak publicly about what occurred.
"What they're not telling you in [Cameron's] release, which is still a question, is what was actually presented to them, if anything," Glogower said. "What were those charges, who were the potential defendants, and then what was the recommendation, if any?"
Cameron's office had previously said sharing more information about the proceedings would be inappropriate with a criminal case and separate federal investigation ongoing. He said Monday that the grand jury "is meant to be a secretive body" but that it is "apparent that the public interest in this case isn't going to allow that to happen."
The attorney general declined to describe the grand jury's decision-making in detail during his news conference last week but emphasized jurors' agency in the process, saying he gave them all the evidence he had. Activists and representatives of Taylor's family have been skeptical, demanding more information on the case that Cameron's team presented.
Attorneys for the family on Tuesday called on Cameron to release a complete and unedited recording of the grand jury proceedings, as well as all evidence in the case.
"Since the grand jury decision was announced, we've been saying that Daniel Cameron clearly failed to present a comprehensive case that supported justice for Breonna," attorneys Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker said in a statement. "That conclusion is supported by the grand juror who came forward to say that the attorney general misrepresented the grand jury's deliberations. We fully support the call to release the entire proceeding transcript as the only way to know what evidence was presented and how the grand jury instructions led to this outcome."
Cameron said in the past week that his only job was to "present the facts" and that he walked jurors through "every homicide offense, and also presented all of the information that was available to the grand jury."
The anonymous juror's filing Monday took issue with that framing of the process and sought the release of recordings and transcripts. The motion also asked the court to declare that members of the jury are free to detail their experience and discuss "any potential charges and defendants presented or not presented."
"Attorney General Cameron attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them," the juror's filing states. "The only exception to the responsibility he foisted upon the grand jurors was in his statement that they 'agreed' with his team's investigation that [two officers] were justified in their actions."
Stories that may interest you
The coronavirus pandemic has left about 299,000 more people dead in the United States than would be expected in a typical year, two-thirds of them of covid-19 and the rest from other causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.
President Donald Trump is calling on Attorney General William Barr to launch an investigation into unverified claims about Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon the department's historic resistance to...
Conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh told his listeners Monday that the advanced lung cancer he announced this year is terminal.
After months of discussion and negotiation, Democrats and the White House inched closer to agreeing on a massive coronavirus spending package Tuesday.