Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear last week called on the state attorney general to release “all information” related to the Taylor grand jury proceedings after the second anonymous juror issued a statement saying the panel was not given an opportunity to consider homicide charges.
The call came after a second anonymous grand juror issued a statement saying the panel was not given an opportunity to consider homicide charges in the case against police officers who served a no-knock warrant at Taylor’s home the night she was killed.
The unusual statements – grand juries are intended to be secret, with some exceptions – followed a ruling from Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell and shed further light on a case that has led to protests across the country and exemplified the ways that the “war on drugs” disproportionately hurts Black Americans.
“The current situation raises serious concerns, as multiple grand jurors are now claiming Attorney General Cameron has not been truthful to the public about what occurred in the grand jury process,” Beshear said in a statement. “I trust Kentuckians with the truth, and the next step should be to release all information, evidence, grand jury conversations, recorded or not – everything.”
CNN has contacted Cameron’s office for comment.
The 26-year-old Taylor was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who broke down her apartment door during a botched drug raid on March 13.
Two anonymous grand jurors make statements about proceedings
A state court judge ruled last week that the grand jurors may speak publicly about the case presented by Attorney General Cameron.
“The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them,” the first anonymous grand juror wrote in a statement issued by attorney Kevin Glogower. “The grand jury never heard about those laws. Self-defense or justification was never explained either.”
A second grand juror echoed that statement last Thursday. The second panel member said the jury was only allowed to consider three wanton endangerment charges against one officer.
“No opportunity to consider anything else was permitted,” the grand juror said, adding that they agreed “wholeheartedly” with the first juror’s statement and looked “forward to continuing to help set the record straight.”
The first grand juror said “questions were asked about additional charges” and that members were told “there would be none because the prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick.”
“The grand jury didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case,” the first juror said. “The grand jury was not given the opportunity to deliberate on those charges and deliberated only on what was presented to them. I can’t speak for other jurors, but I can help the truth be told.”
Cameron says he asked the panel to indict on charges that could be proven
Cameron, in a statement posted on Twitter last week, said he asked the grand jury for an indictment on charges he thought could be proven in court.
He said he asked the grand jury for an indictment on charges he thought could be proven in court.
“Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to anyone,” he wrote.
He also wrote that “causation, justification and (other legal issues) were always at the forefront” of his office’s investigation.
The attorney general has acknowledged wanton endangerment was the only charge his prosecutors recommended to the grand jury. Cameron has said prosecutors presented all evidence, even though the facts showed use of force by two officers not charged was “justified” because they were fired upon.
Sam Aguiar, a lawyer for Taylor’s family, said in a statement last week: “Daniel Cameron should be ashamed of himself. He made a decision based upon a political agenda.”
Aguiar added that Cameron, a rising star in the Republican Party, “tried to hide behind secrecy rules and now his lies got exposed. Everything he’s done has been an abuse of the system. Breonna’s Taylor’s family deserves and is entitled to a prosecutor committed to doing the job with morals, ethics and a commitment to the law.”
Ben Crump, another attorney for Taylor’s family, on Tuesday reiterated his call for the appointment of a new independent prosecutor.
State argued that allowing jurors to speak could compromise trial
The first anonymous grand juror has suggested that Cameron may have misrepresented to the public the case presented to the panel, according the juror’s attorney.
Cameron’s office had requested a stay of any court order allowing the juror to speak out publicly until after a potential state appeal.
The state argued that allowing the grand juror to speak may compromise the right to a fair trial for former officer Brett Hankison.
But O’Connell said Hankison did not join the argument or raise the issue himself, so she ruled that she cannot find that the concern is “founded in reality.”
Hankison was charged with three counts of felony wanton endangerment, but none of the officers involved in the raid was directly charged with Taylor’s death. Hankison has pleaded not guilty to those charges. No other officers were charged.
Hankison’s attorney, Stew Mathews, had no comment on Tuesday.
Some legal experts have said it’s curious Cameron didn’t seek any of Kentucky’s homicide charges to begin with. And CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates said earlier this month that it’s rare for grand juries to go beyond the statutes a prosecutor presents.
Cameron led the investigation into the police killing and presented evidence in the case to a Jefferson County grand jury over two-and-a-half days.
After a court ordered Cameron to do so, the Attorney General released roughly 15 hours of audio recorded while jurors reviewed evidence, like 911 calls and body camera videos, and asked questions.
The recordings do not include juror deliberations or prosecutors’ recommendations and statements, Cameron said.