Grand juror speaks after ruling in Breonna Taylor case

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 21, 2020

The juror said they were not "given the opportunity" to deliberate on additional charges and "deliberated only on what was presented to them".

The rare statement - grand juries are meant to be secret, with some exceptions - followed the ruling of Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Annie O'Connell and sheds 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 grand juror said the panel was never given the option by Cameron to weigh homicide charges, something Cameron had previously confirmed in public statements.

He said Tuesday that he would not appeal the judge's ruling. It merely grants one grand juror's request to do so and gives others the option.

"Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to anyone", he said. No one was directly charged with Breonna Taylor's death.

Ballistics reports, body camera footage and the grand jury recordings released thus far have brought into question the handling of the case by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and the authorities following the raid on the night of March 13 during which Louisville Metro Police Department Officers Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly fired 32 bullets into Taylor's apartment. But Cameron chose to believe the single witness who said police did identify themselves. He said he had asked the grand jury for an indictment on charges that could be proven under Kentucky law.

"I remain confident in our presentation to the Grand Jury", he added. Cameron, serving as a special prosecutor in the Taylor case, argued that allowing grand jurors to talk about the process "would irreversibly alter Kentucky's legal system by making it hard for prosecutors and the public to have confidence in the secrecy of the grand jury process going forward", Cameron said.

In the juror's petition last month asking a judge to speak publicly about the case, they accused Cameron of "using the grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for these decisions". The jury's proceedings are over, Hankison has been indicted, and audio of the evidence presented to the jury has been made public, the judge wrote.

The anonymous grand juror challenged Cameron's comments, saying the panel "didn't agree that certain actions were justified", and grand jurors "did not have homicide charges explained to them".

Those interests leave "no doubt that justice requires disclosure" in this case, O'Connell wrote. A failed September 2019 lawsuit sought to have Cameron removed from the ballot in the race for Kentucky attorney general because he did not meet the state constitutional requirement to have "been a practicing lawyer eight years before his election", the Courier-Journal highlighted in July. In the statement Tuesday, the juror said "my duty as a citizen compelled action" to speak out after hearing Cameron's press conference. The juror wanted to take issue with "the way that it was portrayed to the public as to who made what decisions and who agreed with what decisions", Glogower said. It was unclear whether it is the first grand juror or the second whose statement was released Tuesday. The grand jury never heard anything about those laws. Walker's lone gunshot struck one of the officers in the leg.

Glogower represents two of the 12 jurors in the case. Prosecutors are supposed to be responsive to jurors' questions and concerns, he said.

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