Release Grand Jury Transcripts in Breonna Taylor Case, Family Lawyers Tell Kentucky AG

September 25, 2020 Updated: September 26, 2020

The family of Breonna Taylor are pushing Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to release transcripts from the grand jury that returned charges against one police officer involved in executing a search warrant on her home in March, and appoint a special prosecutor to bring charges against the other officers.

Brett Hankison, a former officer who helped serve the warrant, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of three wanton endangerment counts.

But neither he nor the other officers were charged with murder, which activists and family members wanted.

“What did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron present to the grand jury? Did he present any evidence on Breonna Taylor’s behalf? Or did he make a unilateral decision to put his thumb on the scales of justice, to help try to exonerate and justify the killing of Breonna Taylor by these police officers,” Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyers, said at a press conference in Louisville on Friday.

Cameron denied Taylor’s family justice, Crump alleged, adding: “That’s why we are standing here today united in solidarity, declaring and demanding that he release the transcripts of the grand jury proceeding, to we can know if there was anybody giving a voice to Brianna Taylor.”

Cameron’s office said in a statement that he “understands that the family of Ms. Breonna Taylor is in an incredible amount of pain and anguish, and he also understands that the outcome of the Grand Jury proceedings was not what they had hoped.”

“Regarding today’s statements at the press conference, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but prosecutors and Grand Jury members are bound by the facts and by the law. Attorney General Cameron is committed to doing everything he can to ensure the integrity of the prosecution before him and continue fulfilling his ethical obligations both as a prosecutor and as a partner in the ongoing federal investigation,” his spokeswoman added.

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Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during a press conference to announce a grand jury’s decision to indict one of three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 23, 2020. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

The attorney general, a Republican, announced the charges against Hankison on Wednesday. He said that some of the 10 gunshots fired by the officer traveled through Taylor’s apartment and went into a neighboring residence, where a family of three was at home.

But the shots were triggered by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, firing at Hankison and the other two officers, Sgt. Jon Mattingly and detective Myles Cosgrove, Cameron said. That made the actions by Mattingly and Cosgrove, who both fired at Walker, justified.

“This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor’s death,” he told the briefing.

In addition, Kentucky State Police and FBI ballistics analysis reached different conclusions, creating a reasonable doubt in the evidence about who fired the shot that killed Taylor.

For the first time speaking publicly since Cameron’s announcement, Crump, Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer, and others gathered downtown to criticize how the investigation, which Cameron took over from local police, unfolded.

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Bianca Austin, Breonna Taylors aunt, reads a statement at a press conference in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 25, 2020. (Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images)

Palmer said in a statement read by Bianca Austin, Taylor’s aunt, that she never had faith in Cameron.

“I knew he was too inexperienced to deal with the job of this caliber. I knew he had already chosen to be on the wrong side of the law the moment he wanted the grand jury to make the decision. What I had hoped is that he knew he had the power to do the right thing, that he had the power to start the healing of this city, that he had the power to help mend over 400 years of oppression,” she said.

“What he helped me realize is that it will always be us against them, that we are never safe when it comes to them.”

Lonita Baker, another lawyer representing Taylor’s family, later urged Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor.

“If you in fact did not say Breonna Taylor’s name to the grand jury, if in fact you did not present any charges on behalf of Breonna Taylor to the grand jury, we demand that you appoint a special prosecutor to present charges on behalf of Breonna Taylor to a grand jury because it’s not too late,” she said. “We still demand for justice for Breonna.”

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