Breonna Taylor grand jury members say they were not presented with homicide charges

KARMA ALLEN
·5-min read

A Kentucky judge has ruled in favor of an anonymous grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case, allowing them to come forward and speak publicly about court proceedings.

In a court filing on Tuesday, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Annie O'Connell ordered that grand jurors in the case "may disclose such information, subject to the trial court's order regarding information to be redacted."

In addition, she said: "any grand juror who chooses to disclose their identity to do so with extreme caution, for to do so may result in a level of public attention and scrutiny over which this Court will have no control." The judge wrote that the order "merely grants one grand juror's request to do so and gives others the option... any one grand juror's memory, options, perceptions are their own. No one grand juror speaks for the others, nor does one's statement carry any more weight than another's."

Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by Louisville police officers after they executed a "no-knock" warrant while investigating a suspected drug operation linked to her ex-boyfriend.

Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were in bed sleeping on the night of March 13 when they heard a commotion outside; after a short exchange with police, Walker says he fired his gun in self-defense, saying he thought the home was being broken into, according to police. The plainclothes officers returned gunfire, firing several shots and fatally hitting Taylor, police said.

PHOTO: Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police officers after they allegedly executed a search warrant of the wrong home. (Breonna Taylor Family)
PHOTO: Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police officers after they allegedly executed a search warrant of the wrong home. (Breonna Taylor Family)

A grand jury was later convened and ultimately recommended charges against former Louisville Metro Police Department Officer Brett Hankison, who is now facing three counts of wanton endangerment. Hankinson has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Neither Hankison nor the two other officers involved in the shooting were charged in connection with Taylor's death -- the charges against Hankison stem from the errant bullets that penetrated a wall of the residence and entered a neighboring apartment occupied by a child, a man and a pregnant woman,

Kevin Glogower, who is now representing two anonymous grand jurors in the case, had previously asked the judge to release discovery information and to allow jurors to speak publicly, despite long-standing practices against doing so.

MORE: Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron asks judge to revoke order, keep evidence sealed in Breonna Taylor case

He said he filed the motion over concerns about public trust and transparency, and accused the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron of using the jurors as a shield to deflect accountability. Cameron's office denied those claims and said it was "confident" that it had presented a thorough case.

Glogower's clients released a statement following Tuesday's order, claiming that prosecutors only presented the three wanton endangerment charges against Hankison.

"Being one of the jurors on the Breonna Taylor case was a learning experience. The three weeks of service leading up to that presentation showed how the grand jury normally operates. The Breonna Taylor case was quite different. After hearing the Attorney General Daniel Cameron's press conference, and with my duty as a grand juror being over, my duty as a citizen compelled action," the statement said. "The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them. The grand jury never heard anything about those laws. Self defense or justification was never explained either."

They said "questions were asked about additional charges," but the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn't feel they could make them stick.

"The grand jury didn't agree that certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case," the statement said. "The grand jury was not given the opportunity to deliberate on those charges and deliberated only on what was presented to them. I cannot speak for other jurors but I can help the truth be told."

PHOTO: 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 death of Breonna Taylor on Sept. 23, 2020, in Frankfort, Ky. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
PHOTO: 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 death of Breonna Taylor on Sept. 23, 2020, in Frankfort, Ky. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Glogower said his clients were "very pleased" with the decision, but said they planned to remain anonymous for the time being.

"The court's ruling was very clear that at least for the time being, grand jurors, all 12 of them actually, are free to speak whether they want to do so anonymously or publicly, but no one is allowed to disclose identifying information without either leave of the court or written permission from those individuals," he told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. "At this time there won't be any direct interviews with either of our clients. This is still an open matter to some degree."

The attorney general's request to hold any potential orders until his office files an appeal was also denied on Tuesday. He said his office would not appeal the decision.

"I disagree with the judge's decision, but we will not appeal it. My job as special prosecutor was to investigate and report the facts of the shooting death of Ms. Breonna Taylor," Cameron said in a statement Tuesday. "I remain confident in our presentation to the grand jury, and I stand by the team of lawyers and investigators who dedicated months of work to this case."

MORE: Timeline: Inside the investigation of Breonna Taylor's killing and its aftermath

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor's family, said the jurors' statements prove that Cameron "took the decision out of the grand jury’s hands."

"They didn’t allow the grand jury to do what the law says they have the right to do. This failure rests squarely on the shoulders of Daniel Cameron," Crump said in a joint statement with co-counsels for the family, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker. "The grand juror made it clear that jurors did not agree that certain actions by the police were justified and did not decide that wanton endangerment should be the only charges brought."

"It is a despicable miscarriage of justice that is disrespectful to the life of Breonna Taylor that AG Cameron white washed what his office presented to the grand jury," the statement added.

They also urged for the appointment of a new independent prosecutor "to do the work AG Cameron failed to do."

ABC News' Stephanie Wash, Rachel Katz and Josh Hoyos contributed to this report.

Breonna Taylor grand jury members say they were not presented with homicide charges originally appeared on abcnews.go.com