Earlier this week, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he would not interfere with a judge’s order to release recordings of the grand jury proceedings in Breonna Taylor’s case to the court, as part of former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison’s case file.
But according to a motion filed on Tuesday, Cameron is now seeking a one-week delay in releasing the grand jury recordings, arguing that it was necessary for his office to edit the recording to protect witnesses, reports CNN.
Cameron said his office wants to “redact personal identifiers of any named person and to redact both names and personal identifiers of any private citizen” from the recording, which allegedly is more than 20 hours long.
In a statement given to CNN on Wednesday, the attorney general’s office said it needed the additional time to strike addresses and phone numbers from recordings. The tapes were originally scheduled to be released to the court by noon Wednesday.
The recordings have been the source of great interest since last week when a grand jury charged Hankison with wanton endangerment for shots he fired at Taylor’s apartment that could have hit her neighbors. The two officers responsible for shooting and killing Taylor, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged with any crimes. They remain on the Louisville Metro Police force.
But since the indictments, which were announced last Wednesday, one juror has come forward to dispute Cameron’s public comments about the proceedings. On Monday, the anonymous juror filed a notice asking that grand jury recordings and transcripts be released and that jurors be granted explicit permission to speak freely about the process and what evidence they were presented.
In his public remarks last week, Cameron, the special prosecutor appointed in Taylor’s case, implied that his office and the grand jury were aligned in their decision that Cosgrove and Mattingly were justified in their actions the night they killed Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, in her home.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the juror said this didn’t represent his client’s experience. As the New York Times reports, attorney Kevin Glogower said the juror was bothered by Cameron’s remarks because the grand jury was not given the option of charging the two officers. Instead, they were given only possible charges for former detective Brett Hankison.
Cameron addressed the juror’s comments last night, talking with local Fox affiliate WDRB (h/t Reuters) about the grand jury’s decision. He confirmed that his office had not recommended charging Mattingly and Cosgrove, but suggested that the grand jury could have decided to press charges anyway.
“They are an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that. But our recommendation was that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their acts and their conduct,” he said.
The attorney general, a rising star within the GOP, also made explicit that the only charges his office recommended were wanton endangerment related to Hankison’s actions.
“Ultimately our judgment is that the charge that we could prove at trial beyond a reasonable doubt was for wanton endangerment against Mr. Hankison,” said Cameron.
But while Cameron suggested that the grand jury could have disagreed with his office and brought forward additional charges, a CNN analyst noted such instances are rare.
“Normally the grand jury is simply voting on the statutes presented to the grand jury, they are not combing through the criminal code to see if prosecutors could pursue criminal charges,” said CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates. “They are far more reactive to facts that are presented to them than they are seeking criminal statutes to charge a defendant under.”
Taylor’s family has questioned what narrative—and what evidence—Cameron presented to the jurors as part of the state’s case against the three officers involved in Taylor’s killing. Among the disputes are whether witnesses heard Louisville police announce themselves as they were serving the “no-knock” warrant at Taylor’s home. Taylor’s lawyers say they spoke to at least 11 people who said they did not hear police announce their presence before barging into Taylor’s apartment. But one witness who originally told investigators he did not hear police state who they were before raiding the home reversed his story before the grand jury, testifying that he had, in fact, heard LMPD make their presence known before forcibly entering the apartment.
Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was at Taylor’s apartment at the time of the raid, survived the shooting. While he initially told investigators he fired shots at the plainclothes officers, believing them to be intruders, his lawyers now dispute that he actually hit anyone. The one officer who sustained any injuries, Sgt. Mattingly, was hit by friendly fire, they say.
Cameron responded to those claims during his Tuesday interview, saying Walker’s claim was “silly.”
“To believe that idea is to suggest that somehow bullets that were fired from outside of the apartment, down the side of the apartment unit—somehow, it made a sharp turn left to hit Mattingly in order to match up with the entry wound,” he said.
It’s unclear how soon after the grand jury tapes are turned over to the court that they’ll be made public. The grand juror’s lawyer noted that many of the proceedings may not have actually been recorded, so it’s important jurors be allowed to speak publicly in order for there to be full transparency and accountability about the indictment process.
“I think the point of the whole action is to get more into the narrative,” attorney Glogower said. “It’s not really about changing the narrative, it’s about opening it up to a more full truth for everybody to see.”
Updated: Thursday, 10/1/20 at 7:58 am, ET: A judge ruled on Wednesday that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron will have two additional days to release audio from the grand jury proceedings related to the Breonna Taylor case, according to the Washington Post. Elizabeth Kuhn, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said his office has until Friday at noon to redact private information from the audio and release it to the court.