Weeks after grand jury decision, the Breonna Taylor case is far from over
Troubling details about the Breonna Taylor shooting, the increasing demand for a new special attorney in the case, and the ongoing efforts of a large jury to speak publicly all signal that the case did not end with the grand jury's report on Sept. 23.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that day that a grand jury had declined to bring murder charges against Louisville police officers - Sgt.Jonathan Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove, and now-dismissed officer Brett Hankison - who died in March in Taylor's apartment shot up. The grand jury accused Hankison of allegedly putting residents of a neighboring apartment who were in the line of fire at risk despite not being hit.
"The truth is before us now," said Cameron. "The facts have been examined and a large jury of peers and fellow citizens has made a decision."
However, in the weeks following that decision, the grand jury recordings and investigative file into the shootings were made public. An anonymous member of the grand jury asks a judge for permission to speak freely about the trial. And a petition with more than 8,000 signatures is urging Cameron, whose office took over the case in May after the local prosecutor pulled out, to withdraw from the case.
"The [grand jury] has not determined anyone has the right to kill Breonna," Lonita Baker, an attorney for Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, said on Facebook. "I pray that more jurors get attorneys and come forward - because what happened during this trial and Daniel Cameron's press conference was truly a miscarriage of justice. I want an independent special prosecutor to indict a grand jury on Breonna's behalf."
Cameron's office did not respond to a list of questions from Yahoo News.
Breonna Taylor. (Handout)
A judge in Kentucky is expected to soon decide whether the anonymous grand jury member can speak publicly about the trial, which is illegal under normal circumstances. Legal experts have said the request is almost unprecedented.
The anonymous juror filed a declaratory action in Jefferson County last week to seek clarification of their rights by a judge, according to juror Kevin Glogower.
"We put it to the court like this: Attorney General Cameron's office has stated that they don't want big jurors to speak," Glogower told Yahoo News. “Obviously our customer has this wish, and we have the feeling that other great jurors also want to express their views. But they won't do that until they know what those rights are, because we have a rule here in Kentucky that this stuff is secret. "
A juror who reveals information about the secret trial could be charged with disobeying the court, which could result in a prison sentence of up to six months.
"Nobody really wants to wade out into these waters without really knowing what to do," said Glogower.
A local Louisville activist Christopher 2X, who runs Game Changers, told Yahoo News that a second major juror had reached out to him to also comment on the trial. Glogower admitted a second person would like to come forward, but said his legal team is not currently representing that juror.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks to the media following the return of a grand jury investigation into Breonna Taylor's death on Sept. 23. (Timothy D. Easley / AP)
In a statement Wednesday, Cameron said he had no problem with a grand judge sharing thoughts about his office or the case, but said he had "concerns about a grand judge providing anonymous and unlimited disclosure of grand jury procedures want to do".
Cameron filed a motion against the jury's motion.
"The motion argues that the process and testimony before a grand jury is required by law to remain secret," said Cameron. “The motion also indicates that the anonymous Grand Juror is not attempting to limit the scope of his disclosures. This kind of full and unaudited disclosure could not only endanger witnesses and other great jurors, it could also set a dangerous precedent for future grand juries. "
The jury said in his motion that they disagreed with how Cameron characterized the outcome of the trial, implying that the grand jury was weighing and declining the possibility of indicting the officers with murder. It was only after the juror requested that the grand jury's recordings be published that Cameron announced to local news broadcaster WDRB that his office had not brought a murder charge to the jury, even though the grand jury had previously agreed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire. "
Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor's boyfriend. (AP)
In the jury's motion filed by Glogower, the court was asked to force the grand jury to clear the proceedings. A judge granted the motion last week, and Cameron posted an edited transcript of the recordings last Friday.
The record contained testimony from the three officers directly involved in the raid on Taylor's home. from Taylor's friend Kenneth Walker; by Jeff Fogg, an investigator in the Attorney General's criminal investigation department; and other.
On the record, Fogg told the jury that despite issues with the warrant listed on the investigation files of the Louisville Subway Police Department's Public Integrity Department, the officers were executing a "valid warrant".
"There are other issues with the warrants that we won't go into too much here," Fogg told the panel. “The officers carried out a valid search warrant. The officers who issued this warrant acted in good faith. "
The warrant was based on a suspicion that Taylor was holding packages for her former boyfriend, who was suspected of drug trafficking. According to the investigation report, the detective who wrote the affidavit for the arrest warrant was told that no "suspicious packages" had been received at home and the report said the information in the affidavit was "misleading".
Taylor, 26, was killed after officers issued an arrest warrant for her at her home while she and Walker were sleeping. Officers said they knocked and announced their presence, but Walker said he and Taylor repeatedly asked who was at the door and received no response.
When police broke through the apartment, Walker, who had a licensed firearm, told investigators he "fired a shot" and believed they were intruders, according to grand jury records.
"All of a sudden there are a lot of shots," said Walker. “And we both just fell to the ground and the gun fell. I am scared to death. We are both on site. I panic. It's right there on the floor and bleeding. She's bleeding and no one comes. "
According to the three officers' report, the episode was a chaotic fire in which the officer who fired the fatal shot, Cosgrove, according to the records did not appear to have noticed that he had hit Taylor. Cosgrove said he experienced "tunnel vision" and loss of "hand feeling" when firing his weapon, the investigation report said.
Tamika Palmer, right, the mother of Breonna Taylor, at a September 25 press conference in Louisville, Kentucky after a grand jury decided not to bring a murder charge on Taylor's death. (Darron Cummings / AP)
An FBI investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
If the grand jury members are allowed to speak about their experiences during the trial, their perspectives could potentially address allegations that Cameron's office did not vigorously pursue the case against the officers. Cameron has denied these claims.
"This was a case that moved at a speed no one had seen before," Glogower, who represents the anonymous juror, told Yahoo News. "Part of our job is to set off that alarm and say, 'Look, there's more to history. "
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