A Kentucky judge has sided with an anonymous grand juror, ruling that members of the grand jury can speak freely about proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case because it ultimately serves “the interest of all citizens to have confidence in the integrity of the justice system.”
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had fought to keep jurors silent on the proceedings after releasing 15 hours of recordings earlier this month. Cameron, serving as a special prosecutor in the Taylor case, argued that allowing grand jurors to talk about the process “would irreversibly alter Kentucky’s legal system by making it difficult for prosecutors and the public to have confidence in the secrecy of the grand jury process going forward,” Cameron said.
He filed a motion on Oct. 8 in an attempt to keep the process secret.
But Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell, who handed down her decision Tuesday afternoon, saw it differently.
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“There exist additional interests to consider in making this decision: the interest of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be assured that its publicly elected officials are being honest in their representations; the interest of grand jurors, whose service is compelled, to be certain their work is not mischaracterized by the very prosecutors on whom they relied to advise them; and, the interest of all citizens to have confidence in the integrity of the justice system,” O’Connell wrote, according to CNN.
O’Connell argued that “traditional justifications for secrecy in this matter are no longer relevant and that the ends of justice require disclosure.”
Cameron also argued that allowing grand jurors to speak could compromise former Louisville Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison’s right to a fair trial. Hankison was the only person charged in connection to the police raid on the 26-year-old Taylor’s apartment, but not for causing her death. His three counts of “wanton endangerment” were based on shots he fired from outside Taylor’s home, causing a danger to her neighbors.
Judge O’Connell noted, however, that Hankison himself didn’t join Cameron’s argument or request to be heard in court, and thus “could not find that this concern is founded in reality.”
Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, both of whom fired shots that struck and killed Taylor, were not charged with any crime and remain on the LMPD force.
The grand juror came forward in September, following the announcement of indictments in the case, to contest public remarks Cameron had given explaining the decision-making process. Cameron initially said jurors agreed with prosecutors that no one should be directly charged with killing Taylor. The attorney general also 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 the juror, who has remained anonymous, said this wasn’t the case. On Tuesday, the juror released a statement through their attorney Kevin Glogower.
“The grand jury was not presented any charges other than the three wanton endangerment charges against Detective Hankison,” the statement read. “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. Questions were asked about additional charges and 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 juror continued. “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.”
O’Connell’s ruling allows for any juror to come forward and speak about the proceedings, including juror deliberations and prosecutor recommendations, both of which were not included in the hours of recordings released to the public earlier this month.