Grand Juror In Breonna Taylor Case Speaks Publicly, Disputes AG’s Statements
An anonymous grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case is speaking out about the investigation by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron after a Jefferson County circuit judge granted grand jurors permission to discuss the secret proceedings.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the anonymous juror said the grand jury was not presented any charges other than the three wanton endangerment charges against former Louisville Metro Police detective Brett Hankison.
The statement also alleges that prosecutors did not explain or pursue homicide offenses with the grand jury.
“The grand jury never heard anything about those laws,” read the statement, which was signed “Anonymous Grand Juror #1.”
The grand juror’s allegations contradict what Cameron said at a press conference last month announcing the three charges of wanton endangerment against Hankison.
“What I will say is that they [the grand jury] were walked through all the homicide offenses,” Cameron told reporters in September.
Cameron also said “the grand jury agreed” with prosecutors that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were justified in their return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, during a “no knock” warrant execution on March 13.
But the anonymous grand juror seems to push back. “The grand jury didn’t agree that certain actions were justified,” the grand juror’s statement reads, “nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case.”
The statement comes after Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell’s ruling on Tuesday granted an anonymous grand juror’s request to discuss the investigation presented to the grand jury by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
In their statement, the grand juror said their “duty as a citizen compelled action.”
In her order, O’Connell wrote that there is no longer any reason to prevent this juror or any others in the case from talking publicly since the grand jury’s work has concluded.
“As applied in this case, this Court finds that the traditional justifications for secrecy in this matter are no longer relevant and that the ends of justice require disclosure,” she wrote. “The grand jury in this matter was afforded all the privacy and secrecy necessary to freely deliberate.”
O’Connell’s order applies to any of the grand jurors on the panel who want the option to speak.
In a statement Tuesday evening, Cameron said he disagrees with O’Connell’s decision but will not appeal it.
“Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to anyone,” Cameron said. “I remain confident in our presentation to the grand jury, and I stand by the team of lawyers and investigators who dedicated months of work to this case.”
The Taylor family’s attorney, Ben Crump, said in an emailed statement that Cameron “took the decision out of the grand jury’s hands.”
“Only because a brave member of that grand jury asked for permission to issue a statement and Judge O’Connell ruled on the side of transparency do we have this confirmation of AG Cameron’s dereliction of duties,” Crump said. “The grand juror made it clear that jurors did not agree that certain actions by the police were justified and did not decide that wanton endangerment should be the only charges brought. AG Cameron did not explain homicide offenses to the grand jury and did not give the grand jury an opportunity to deliberate on those charges. It is a despicable miscarriage of justice that is disrespectful to the life of Breonna Taylor that AG Cameron white washed what his office presented to the grand jury.”
Crump urged the appointment of a new independent prosecutor to launch a new investigation.
Grand Jurors ‘Very Pleased’
During a press conference Tuesday, Kevin Glogower, an attorney representing the grand juror in this case and a second anonymous grand juror, said they are both “very pleased” with the judge’s ruling “in favor of truth and transparency and in the interest of public trust.”
He said one of the most significant parts of the ruling is that O’Connell granted the plaintiff’s motion to release “the unrecorded portions” of the grand jury proceedings.
“Attorney General Daniel Cameron kept making statements regarding what occurred outside of those recordings, and no one was able to weigh in on that, refute it, clarify it, or frankly, to tell him that he was incorrect in his statements,” Glogower said. “That ability has now been granted.”
O’Connell rejected Cameron’s claim that the proceedings should remain secret, because lifting secrecy from the process would set a dangerous precedent. O’Connell said she considered Cameron’s “swift compliance” with order to release grand jury recordings and his public statements and characterizations about the proceedings in light of his objection to the grand jurors speaking.
The objection “now reads as theatrical sturm und drang,” she wrote, a Germanic phrase which means he employed drama and theatricality in his statements.
Cameron had earlier asked O’Connell to stay any order that granted the juror permission to speak, to give him time to file an appeal. O’Connell did not grant the stay.
The grand juror and their lawyer filed a motion to speak after the grand jury indicted Hankison for three counts of wanton endangerment in the operation that left Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, dead in her home. Neither Hankison nor any other officers involved in the raid were indicted in connection with her death.
Cameron could still appeal the decision, making this still “an open matter to some degree,” Glogower, the attorney for the juror, said, explaining that his clients will not do any media interviews at this time and want to remain anonymous as they monitor the state attorney general’s next move.
“So, the court’s ruling was very clear that, at least for the time being, grand jurors, all 12 of them actually, are free to speak, whether they want to do so anonymously or publicly… if [the attorney general’s office files] that appeal, whether it’s today, tomorrow or the next day, we would no longer have that ability to speak,” Glogower said.
Eleanor Klibanoff and Mike Edgerly contributed to this story.