Two grand jurors in the Breonna Taylor case criticized Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) and his office in a Wednesday interview. They said that the state never presented charges besides the three wanton endangerment counts against fired Louisville police detective Brett Hankison. One of the jurors said this caused an “uproar” in the room.
“They never gave us the opportunity to deliberate on anything but the charges for Hankison,” Juror #2 told CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King in an interview. “That was it. As a matter of fact, when they announced that those were the only charges, it was an uproar in that room. There were several more charges that could’ve gone forward on all of those officers. Or at least the three shooters.”
Hankison, Sgt. Jon Mattingly, and Detective Myles Cosgrove opened fire when police attempted to execute a search warrant on Taylor’s apartment on the early morning of March 13, Cameron said. Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker had fired on them, striking Mattingly in the leg, according to authorities. But Walker said he never heard police announce themselves, and that he did not know this was law enforcement. Only Hankison was charged in the incident, and that was because he allegedly fired into a neighboring apartment. Cameron said at a press conference that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in returning fire, and he asserted they were acting in self-defense when law enforcement shot Taylor.
Grand jurors 1 and 2 called Walker believable in his account. Juror 1 said the law enforcement operation was a mess, and it appeared to him there was no organization or leadership.
“It was one mistake right after the other, right after the other,” said Juror 2, referring to the police operation. “They covered it up.” He said that “it was a betrayal” when prosecutors did not present more charges.
Grand juror 1 said “almost the entire room” wondered if there were other options. According to him, the answer prosecutors gave them was that, “Basically, in a nutshell, they said there were other possible charges that we considered, but nothing we could make stick.”
They also took issue with the way AG Cameron presented the case to the public.
“When he stated that there were six possible murder charges, and that the grand jury had agreed that those didn’t apply, the first time I heard there were six possible murder charges was in that news conference,” Grand juror 1 said.
Here’s how Cameron put it in the September 30 press conference:
While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed, and the grand jury agreed, that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker. Let me state that again: According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.
Cameron told WDRB in a follow-up interview that the grand jurors could have make a decision about other charges, but the two grand jurors, who asked CBS not to be identified, said that they were never given the opportunity.
“I really felt that this was all Cameron,” said Juror 2. “This was up to him. We didn’t get the choice in that at all. So I was livid. By the time I heard what he was saying, everything that came out of his mouth, I was saying ‘liar.’ Because we didn’t agree to anything. We never met Cameron.”
Attorney Kevin Glogower, a lawyer for the grand jurors, said that it seemed clear from the wording of the press conference that Cameron was implying he played a larger part in the grand jury presentation. The attorney general in Kentucky doesn’t usually present grand jury cases, but the highest person in the office usually introduces themselves, the attorney said.
Glogower said that in grand jury cases, the jurors are usually presented the law first as a “road map,” then the evidence. He said that, in this case, the reverse happened.
[Image via CBS This Morning screengrab]
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