Did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron tell the truth about his office’s presentation to the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case? We could soon find out.
Hours after a jury member accused Cameron of using the grand jury as a “shield to deflect accountability and responsibility,” the attorney general announced Monday that he will comply with a judge’s order and release a recording of the proceedings. Any recordings of what prosecutors presented to the grand jury, as well as witness testimony, will be turned over to the court by Wednesday and added to the court’s case file.
As CBS News reports, Cameron personally disagrees with the decision, telling the outlet in a statement that the grand jury “is meant to be a secretive body.”
“It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen,” he said.
According to Cameron, the release of the recordings will also satisfy the request of a grand jury member, who earlier on Monday filed a notice of a motion (pdf) asking for the recordings to be released and for jurors to speak freely about the process. The notice, considered “tremendously uncommon” by legal experts, suggests that Cameron’s public comments about the case do not align with what his office presented to the grand jury.
In the notice, the juror said Cameron, who served as a special prosecutor in the Taylor case, “attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them.”
“The citizens of this Commonwealth have demonstrated their lack of faith in the process and proceedings in this matter and the justice system itself,” the motion said. “Using the grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for these decisions only sows more seeds of doubt in the process while leaving a cold chill down the spines of future grand jurors.”
The motion cites several specific comments Cameron made at a press conference last Wednesday explaining the charges against ex-Louisville Metro police officer Brett Hankison and the process the grand jury undertook. Cameron claimed he walked jurors through “every homicide offense, and also presented all of the information that was available to the grand jury,” writes The Washington Post.
But Taylor’s family and attorneys have doubted that was the case.
Attorneys for Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, expressed doubt that Cameron’s office spoke to or presented testimony from neighbors who corroborated Walker’s statements that police serving a “no-knock” warrant on March 13 did not announce their presence at the door before forcibly entering Taylor’s apartment. One witness who spoke in front of the grand jury said police did announce their presence, contradicting earlier statements he made to investigators.
“Daniel Cameron only presented his perspective and didn’t present the other 12 neighbors. He has unilaterally made a decision on whether or not Breonna Taylor would ever get due process, whether she would ever get justice, and that is not right,” Taylor family attorney Ben Crump told CBS This Morning recently.
It’s also unclear to what extent jurors considered charges against Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, the two officers who actually shot and killed Taylor in her home. Cameron said his office presented “all of the evidence,” even as it suggested that Mattingly and Cosgrove were “justified in their use of force” because Walker, mistaking the plainclothes officers for intruders, fired first.
The motion states that the juror feared Cameron “would attempt to utilize the court’s contempt powers…if there was a public disclosure that contradicted certain things that he stated happened during the proceedings, characterized the singularity of the decision in a different light, or raised doubts about charges that were presented during the proceedings.”
The only officer in the March 13 raid to be charged was Hankison, who received three counts of wanton endangerment for shots he fired into Taylor’s walls. The charges reflect the danger Hankison posed to Taylor’s neighbors.
Mattingly and Cosgrove received no charges and still remain on the Louisville Metro police force.
Cameron has previously pushed back against calls to release recordings and transcripts from the grand jury proceedings, citing “ethical obligations” such as compromising the ongoing federal investigation into Taylor’s killing, or “poisoning the jury pool,” reports CNN.
“Despite these concerns, we will comply with the Judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday,” Cameron said in a statement on Monday night.
“We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” Cameron elaborated in a statement shared with the Washington Post. “Once the public listens to the recording, they will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the Grand Jury.”