The grand juror said they were not presented with any charges other than wanton endangerment and did not conclude that the officers’ actions in shooting Taylor were “justified,” as Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has claimed.
A member of the grand jury who heard evidence as part of the Breonna Taylor investigation said Tuesday they did not conclude her fatal shooting was justified, contradicting statements made by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
The grand juror, who was only allowed to comment after a Kentucky judge ordered records in the proceedings were made public, said the only charges presented to the grand jury were for wanton endangerment.
Former Louisville Police Detective Brett Hankison was indicted last month on that charge for firing his weapon into one of Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment on March 13. Officers Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove were not indicted on any charges, which, according to the grand juror, is because Cameron did not present them with any charges relating to those officers.
“The grand jury was not presented any charges other than the three Wanton Endangerment charges against Detective Hankison,” the anonymous grand juror’s statement read.
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The grand juror said that homicide laws, self-defense laws, and justification laws were not explained during the investigation, even though members of the grand jury asked about them.
“Questions were asked about additional charges and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick,” the statement said. “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 grand jury was not given the opportunity to deliberate on those charges and deliberated only on what was presented to them.”
Those comments run counter to the picture painted by Cameron, who was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.
“Our investigation showed and the grand jury agreed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their return of deadly fire” because Taylor’s boyfriend had fired his gun first, Cameron said last month. “According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor’s death.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot to death after the three officers broke down her door during a drug investigation. The officers allegedly knocked on the door, waking up Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Walker claimed he and Taylor both asked who was at the door, but did not hear a response. Walker later told police he was afraid their apartment was being broken into, and so when officers used a battering ram to enter the apartment, he fired one shot from his gun, striking Officer Mattingly in the thigh. The three plainclothes officers responded by firing more than 20 shots, at least six of which hit Taylor, killing her.
In a new interview with The Courier Journal and ABC News, Mattingly said Taylor “didn’t deserve to die” but that her death “had nothing to do with race. Nothing at all.”
“This is not relatable to George Floyd. This is nothing like that,” Mattingly said. “It’s not Ahmaud Arbery. It’s nothing like it. These are two totally different types of incidences. It’s not a race thing like people wanna try to make it to be. It’s not.”
Activists and demonstrators across the country disagreed, and the decision not to file more serious charges against the officers sparked outrage. Cameron’s public response also prompted the anonymous grand juror to seek a court order, allowing them to take the unusual step of speaking publicly about the case. The juror said through their attorney that they wanted to address “mischaracterizations laid upon the public.”
Cameron filed a motion seeking to keep the grand juror from speaking out publicly, but failed, as the judge ruled in favor of the grand juror to show if “publicly elected officials are being honest.”
The judge’s decision came after recordings of the grand jury were published and after the Louisville Police Department released body camera footage showing that officers left Taylor’s body unattended for several minutes after she was shot.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Cameron defended his handling of the investigation. “As Special Prosecutor, it was my decision to ask for an indictment on charges that could be proven under Kentucky law,” he said. “I remain confident in our presentation to the Grand Jury.”
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Attorneys representing Taylor’s family ripped into Cameron, accusing him of whitewashing the evidence presented to the jury and calling his decision “a despicable miscarriage of justice.”
“Attorney General Daniel Cameron took the decision out of the grand jury’s hands,” the statement added. “[He] didn’t allow the grand jury to do what the law says they have the right to do.”
The family’s attorneys called for the appointment of a new independent prosecutor to review the case and “do the work AG Cameron failed to do.”