A grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case is speaking out after a Louisville judge cleared the way for the panel’s members to talk publicly about the secretive proceedings.
An anonymous grand juror filed suit to speak publicly after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced last month that no officers would be directly charged in the March shooting death of Taylor during a botched narcotics raid. The grand jury charged one officer with endangering her neighbours.
In a written statement on Tuesday, released after the judge’s ruling, the grand juror, who was not identified, said that only wanton endangerment charges were offered to them to consider against one officer.
The grand jury asked questions about bringing other charges against the officers, “and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick,” the grand juror said.
Cameron had opposed in court allowing grand jurors to speak about the proceedings. He said on Tuesday that he would not appeal the judge’s ruling. Grand juries are typically secret meetings, although earlier this month, the audio recordings of the proceedings in the Taylor case were released publicly.
Cameron announced the results of the grand jury investigation in a widely viewed news conference on September 23. At that announcement, he said prosecutors “walked the grand jury through every homicide offence”.
He also said “the grand jury agreed” that the officers who shot Taylor were justified in returning fire after they were shot at by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. Walker’s lone gunshot struck one of the officers in the leg.
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”.
The grand juror’s lawyer, Kevin Glowgower, said his client’s chief complaint was the way in which the results were “portrayed to the public as to who made what decisions and who agreed with what decisions”.
The grand juror had no further plans to speak about the proceedings on Tuesday beyond the statement, Glowgower said.
Cameron has acknowledged his prosecutors did not introduce any homicide charges against two officers who shot Taylor, and said it was because they were justified in returning fire after Walker shot at them.
Cameron said Tuesday that it was his decision “to ask for an indictment that could be proven under Kentucky law”.
“Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to anyone,” Cameron said in a statement released Tuesday night.
In the ruling allowing the grand jurors to speak, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell wrote that it “is a rare and extraordinary example of a case where, at the time this motion is made, the historical reasons for preserving grand jury secrecy are null.”
Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician, was shot multiple times after being roused from sleep by white officers executing a narcotics warrant. The warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.
The case has fuelled nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.