2 grand jurors in Breonna Taylor case say charges should have been filed against other Louisville officers

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2 grand jurors in Breonna Taylor case say charges should have been filed against other Louisville officers2 grand jurors in Breonna Taylor case say charges should have been filed against other Louisville officers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More Louisville police officers should face criminal charges for their roles in the March 13 attempted drug search that ended in the death of Breonna Taylor, two grand jurors said Wednesday.

And both jurors said they agree with the effort of Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, to have a special prosecutor appointed to review the case.

Those were some of several complaints the jurors made Wednesday against Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his office for their handling of the case. It was the first time the grand jurors spoke publicly, with “CBS This Morning” and again during an afternoon phone call with local and national journalists.

In the seven months since Taylor, a Black emergency room technician, was fatally shot by Louisville police officers, her name has become a rallying cry for racial justice, with protesters, politicians, celebrities and star athletes demanding the officers who shot her be fired and criminal criminally charged.  

“Do I feel that justice was done?” grand juror No. 1, who has maintained his anonymity, said in a phone interview with reporters Wednesday. “No. I feel that there was quite a bit more that could have been done or should have been presented for us to deliberate on.”

“We looked at a lot of evidence,” added grand juror No. 2, who also has declined to reveal his name, “and we were able to see probable cause in a lot of different situations.”

They could not say which officers should be charged and what those charges should be because they said Kentucky’s homicide law was never explained to them by prosecutors during the grand jury proceeding.

Cameron declined to comment on their remarks. Louisville police officials have also declined to answer questions about the case while an internal investigation continues. 

Related: Taylor’s mom asks for special prosecutor to review cops’ conduct

Grand juror No. 1 is white, according to CBS’ Gayle King, while grand juror No. 2 is Black. The two were joined by their attorney, Kevin Glogower of Louisville.

While both jurors cautioned they could not speak for the other 10 jurors, the first said, “I don’t feel that we’re alone” in their frustration over the lack of additional charges.

“There was an uproar,” the second said, when the special prosecutor announced the only charges for consideration were three counts of wanton endangerment against former Detective Brett Hankison. 

Hankison was one of seven officers trying to serve the search warrant at Taylor’s apartment around 12:40 a.m. March 13, and one of three Louisville officers to fire his weapon.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove fired six and 16 shots respectively, and Hankison fired 10 after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired what he described as a warning shot when police broke in the front door.

Walker has told investigators and the media he didn’t realize he was firing at police.

Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove were not charged because under Kentucky law, their actions constituted self-defense. Hankison’s charges stem from bullets that went into a neighboring apartment occupied by three people. His charges and had nothing to do directly with Taylor’s death. 

The first grand juror told “CBS This Morning” he had remained anonymous because he feared for his and his family’s safety, though he believed most of the general public agrees with him.

They were inclined to speak out, the second grand juror said, because they believed Palmer deserves to know the truth.

In a Wednesday application to the Kentucky Prosecutors Advisory Council, Palmer requested a “competent and capable prosecutor willing to handle the case involving the death of my daughter.” Palmer and her attorneys said Wednesday that Cameron’s handling of the case undermined the “trust and integrity” of the judicial process to the point that a new prosecutor should be appointed to review the case.

“My biggest thing was to make sure that Breonna’s mom knew that the city of Louisville and Jefferson County, there are good people in that city, in that county — and they stood up and they tried to do the right thing,” the second grand juror said.

‘Say her name. Don’t say mine’: Taylor’s boyfriend remains haunted by her death

Jurors say they weren’t given all homicide options

The two grand jurors said they felt the need to speak out after a Sept. 23 press conference by Cameron, which they said misrepresented their position on potential indictments against the officers.

At that press conference, Cameron said the grand jury “agreed” with the decision the shots Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified since they came in response to Walker firing at them first. 

“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 their return of deadly fire,” Cameron said at the time.

Background: Kentucky grand jury indicts 1 of 3 police officers in fatal Breonna Taylor shooting – but not for her death

The grand jury never considered the six possible homicide charges that Cameron referred to in the press conference, the first grand juror said.

“This was all Cameron. This was up to him. We didn’t get a choice in that at all,” the second grand juror told CBS. “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.”

The grand jurors said during other non-Taylor criminal cases they heard in September, prosecutors began with the charges they were seeking and the law explaining those charges.

“Normally the grand jurors are presented with the law and the charges, so that they can listen to the facts with an open mind and apply those facts to the law, almost as a road map,” the jurors’ attorney, Glogower, told CBS. “What happened here was it was done in the complete reverse.

“From a legal perspective, it looked like they weren’t following the grand jurors and they only wanted the grand jurors to follow them, which is contrary to the actual rule.”

Glogower noted during the interview with other media that grand jurors should have been given access to any evidence or witnesses they requested, even if it took a subpoena to secure it. Jurors said they wanted to see video of the interviews with officers, not just audio recordings, but were never shown the footage.

The second grand juror said the Taylor case wasn’t the hardest case they saw during their service in September. Because it came later in the month of their grand jury term — Sept. 21-23 — he said they felt prepared to tackle it.

“By the time we got to this one, we felt like we could really go in and look at what we had been trained to do and be able to come out of it and give the city and the county what they asked for, as much justice as we could,” he said.

“But we were denied that. By actually being able to speak up now allows people to know we were actually in the process of trying our best to do that, but because of Cameron’s office, we were denied that.

“Whoever is next should actually get the opportunity to bring some justice — some real justice — and it should be heard.”

Cameron never met with the grand jury

Glogower said Cameron implied in the September press conference he had “played a larger role in the actual presentation.”

Presenting cases to a grand jury is not normally the job of the state’s attorney general, Glogower acknowledged, but “generally, the highest person in the office would at least come introduce themselves to the grand jurors.”

“He never discussed anything with us,” the first grand juror said about Cameron.

The first grand juror also questioned Louisville Metro Police’s preparation behind the raid. Officers were “negligent” in their actions, he said, and “their organization leading up to this was lacking.”

Both grand jurors questioned how the warrant in the case was acquired. The FBI is investigating “all aspects of the death of Breonna Taylor,” a bureau spokesman told The Courier Journal after Cameron’s announcement last month, and Cameron has said the investigation will examine how Louisville police obtained the search warrant used that night.

A Courier Journal analysis of the criminal file compiled in Taylor’s case previously revealed a litany of problems by Louisville police, including poor planning, execution and judgment from the moment officers planned the search of her apartment, through its ill-conceived execution and afterward with the failure to control the crime scene and chaperone the officers involved in her death.

The city of Louisville in September paid one of the largest amounts ever in the U.S. for police misconduct — $12 million settlement to Taylor’s family, as well as agreeing to a dozen police reforms.

Related: Listen to the recordings from Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings

Both grand jurors believed Kenneth Walker

Police had received a judge’s approval to carry out a no-knock warrant at Taylor’s apartment but said they decided to knock and announce their presence instead. Mattingly has previously told The Courier Journal that he and six other detectives stood outside Taylor’s door for nearly a minute, shouting that police were there to execute a search warrant. 

However, attorneys for Taylor’s family and about a dozen neighbors interviewed by police and media say didn’t hear police announce themselves. One resident who did say he heard police said the exact opposite in an earlier police interview.

On Wednesday, the second juror said Walker clearly didn’t know who had come into the apartment at the time of the shooting.

The police presented “too many inconsistencies,” the first grand juror said.

“Now, I understand that in a situation like that, you may not remember, but I didn’t find their testimony credible,” he said.

Cameron had pushed to keep the pair from speaking out, saying grand jury proceedings are traditionally kept secret.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell, though, ruled against him, saying all information in the case should be released to ensure that those behind the presentation to the grand jury had been honest and that their work isn’t “mischaracterized by the very prosecutors upon whom they relied to advise them.”

In a tweet following O’Connell’s ruling, Cameron said he disagreed with her decision but would not appeal.

Attorneys for Taylor’s family have argued Cameron “white-washed” his grand jury presentation and did not give the group the option of returning any charges beyond the three counts of wanton endangerment against Hankison.

Lucas Aulbach: laulbach@courier-journal.com; 502-582-4649; Twitter: @LucasAulbach. Tessa Duvall: tduvall@courier-journal.com; 502-582-4059; Twitter: @TessaDuvall.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Breonna Taylor: Grand jurors say Louisville cops should be charged