By ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #local-all
Ruling issued after Kentucky AG sought last-minute delay
A Kentucky judge has delayed until Friday the release of secret grand jury proceedings in Breonna Taylor’s killing by police so that prosecutors can edit out witnesses’ names and personal information.
Hours before the court was due to release the recordings on Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion to delay the action by one week, according to several news reports.
The surprise legal action came two days after one of the grand jurors filed a motion claiming Cameron misled the public about the proceedings.
Cameron’s motion cited the need to redact information that would protect the identities of private citizens who served as witnesses in the case, reports said.
It was one of several unprecedented developments following the grand jury’s decision last week not to charge any of the Louisville police officers in Taylor’s fatal shooting during a drug raid on March 13. The details that slowly emerged about the botched raid sparked national outrage and months of protests.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used had been connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.
Cameron acknowledged for the first time this week that he never put forth an option for the grand jury to indict any of the officers for murder in the woman’s fatal shooting.
Cameron had previously declined to say what charges he recommended but in a TV interview on Tuesday, Cameron said he had recommended no charges against the other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove.
Cameron has also announced that the law did not permit him to charge the officers and that the grand jury had agreed with him by charging one of the three officers — Brett Hankison — with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment unrelated to Taylor’s death.
Hankison was instead charged with shooting into neighboring apartments on the night of the raid. Hankison, who was fired from the force for his actions, pleaded not guilty on Monday.
Cameron said last week the use of force by officers was justified because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was the first to open fire when police burst in, wounding Mattingly.
Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge after Walker said he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.
Cameron said Hankison and the other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering — and so did not execute the warrant as “no-knock,” according to the investigation.
“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” he said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
“Sometimes the criminal law is not adequate to respond to a tragedy,” he said.
Then in a surprise development on Monday, one of the unnamed grand jurors filed a motion in court the seeking the release of court transcripts and permission from a judge to speak publicly about the proceedings.
Lawyer Kevin Glogower said the grand juror came to him distressed last week after Cameron announced that the law did not permit him to charge the officers and that the jury had agreed with him.
According to Glogower, the juror was unsettled by the fact that the grand jury was not given an option of charging the two officers when the community was roiled by demonstrations seeking their indictment, The New York Times reported. The 12-member panel was presented only with possible charges against Hankison.
“This is something where the juror is not seeking any fame, any acclaim, any money,” said Glogower, according to The New York Times.
In response, Cameron said he supported the release of tapes of the proceedings.
“We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” Cameron said in a written statement. Cameron added that the record will show that his team “presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.”
The exposure of grand jury proceedings would upend a long tradition of keeping those deliberations secret.
Cameron, a Republican protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the state’s first African American attorney general, has been criticized since announcing the grand jury’s indictment for not seeking charges against the officers for killing Taylor. Cameron said the other two officers who fired their guns were justified because Taylor’s boyfriend had fired at them first.
Protesters took to the streets in Louisville and around the country to demand more accountability in the case, as frustrations spilled over after months of waiting for Cameron’s announcement. Activists and Taylor’s family called for the grand jury file to be released.
After the judge ordered the public release of the grand jury proceedings during Hankison’s arraignment on Monday, Cameron said the grand jury was meant to be a “secretive body,” but “it’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.”
The attorney general said a record of the proceedings would be released Wednesday, and that the public “will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.”
Speaking to WDRB-TV in Louisville, Cameron remarked of the grand jury, “They’re an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that. But our recommendation was that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their acts and their conduct.”
Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.