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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
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Grand Juror in Breonna Taylor Case Speaks Out Against AG

An anonymous grand juror from the Breonna Taylor case issued a rare public statement Tuesday and said the grand jury was given no options other than the three wanton endangerment charges brought against a fired Louisville police officer.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CN) — An anonymous grand juror from the Breonna Taylor case issued a rare public statement Tuesday, claiming the grand jury was given no options other than the three wanton endangerment charges brought against a fired Louisville police officer.

The statement, released by the Glogower Law Office in Louisville, also says Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s team never explained possible homicide charges or the theories of self-defense and justification.

“The grand jury,” the statement says, “didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case.”

Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was shot and killed after Louisville Metro Police Department officers executed a search warrant at her apartment in hopes of connecting her to a drug operation involving her ex-boyfriend.

After a lengthy investigation, Cameron chose not bring murder or homicide charges against any of the officers involved, and instead charged Louisville Detective Brett Hankison with wanton endangerment related to shots he fired into neighboring apartments.

Cameron fought to keep the grand jury proceedings sealed, but a judge made audio recordings public earlier this month. Included in the recordings was audio from Hankison’s police radio during which he claimed to have encountered “rifle fire” at the apartment.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a single shot from a legally owned handgun at the officers after he claimed they broke down the door without announcing themselves as police.

Police Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly testified during proceedings that Taylor was targeted because she received an ex-boyfriend’s packages and held money there as part of a drug dealing operation, but that testimony was contradicted by other evidence.

An internal memo from the Louisville Metro Police Department confirmed that no suspicious packages were ever delivered to Taylor’s address, but those allegations were used to obtain the warrant that led to Taylor’s death.

The statement made by the grand juror on Tuesday contradicts previous statements issued by the attorney general, who said the grand jury agreed with the charges his office handed down.

The juror said they felt “compelled” to act after their experience on the grand jury and Cameron’s press conference regarding the charges against Hankison.

“The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them,” the statement said. “The grand jury never heard anything about those laws. Self-defense or justification was never explained either.

The anonymous juror added, “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.”

Cameron said in a statement after the recordings were released that “the grand jury was given a complete picture” of the execution of the warrant and subsequent killing of Taylor.

Taylor’s family recently reached a $12 million settlement with the city in a civil suit that also calls for police reform.

Large-scale protests, sometimes becoming violent, have occupied parts of downtown Louisville since Taylor’s killing, and a curfew was implemented after Cameron made his announcement to bring charges only against Hankison.

Public outcry about the use of a “no-knock” warrant prompted the city to pass “Breonna’s Law” shortly after Taylor’s death, which outlawed the use of any such warrants in the future.

The grand juror chose to speak publicly after being given permission by the judge in Hankison’s criminal case, who also cautioned all members of the grand jury.

“The court urges any grand juror who chooses to disclose their identity to do so with extreme caution,” the judge wrote, “for to do so may result in a level of public attention and scrutiny over which this court will have no control.

“Furthermore, this order is not intended to coerce, compel, or even encourage any grand juror to come forward. It merely grants one grand juror’s request to do so and gives others the option,” the ruling states. “Grand jury deliberations are a collaborative process. Any one grand juror’s memory, opinions and perceptions are their own. No one grand juror speaks for the others, nor does one’s statement carry any more weight than another’s.”

A second juror included on the statement said they were pleased with the judge’s decision and will be “discussing possible next steps with counsel,” and also chose to remain anonymous.

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