The death of Breonna Taylor during a police raid on her apartment was pivotal for the Black Lives Matters movement. When three plainclothes officers entered her residence on a no-knock warrant, Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired his gun at them, believing them to be intruders. The police returned fire, hitting Taylor more than 30 times. She died at the scene.
After a grand jury failed to bring any charges directly related to Taylor’s death against the involved officers, an anonymous juror requested that the court release all the recordings, explaining that they felt Kentucky Attorney General Cameron misrepresented the case to the public. The juror claimed that was presented to them is not being publicly disclosed. This would include all transcripts, recordings and reports. Cameron said this was surprising and very uncommon. The court originally ordered this to be disclosed to the public at noon on Wednesday, but Cameron asked for a week-long extension in order to redact the witnesses’ personal information such as phone numbers and personal addresses. This task is especially complicated by the length of the recording, which is over 20 hours long.
This juror also wanted the court to make a “binding declaration” which would permit them to issue a public statement and give them the right to disclose information. The juror believes that there were many unanswered questions as to the charging recommendations and evidence presented to the grand jury.
In May, the FBI announced that it was looking into what happened the night Taylor was killed. They are viewing all of the evidence and interviewing witnesses regardless of what happens in court. Cameron has stated as recently as Monday, Sep. 28 that releasing this information could interfere with the ongoing federal investigation. However, due to the national scrutiny over the decision to indict only officer Brett Hankison on charges unrelated to Taylor’s death, AG Cameron will be releasing the recording in order to give the public more information regarding the two days of grand jury proceedings. This public scrutiny intensified after the anonymous juror requested the ability to speak publicly about how the case was handled.
Many civil rights attorneys, including Crump, feel that Cameron made a unilateral decision about the evidence presented to the jury. They argue that if they could prove wanton endangerment for the people who lived in the apartments near Breonna, they should be able to prove wanton endangerment for Taylor as well. Cameron has stated on multiple occasions that the shot fired by Walker gave the other officers the right to shoot, and that there is no conclusive evidence that Hankison’s bullet struck Taylor.
Since the charges against Hankison were announced, Breonna Taylor’s family and supporters have criticized Cameron, saying that they never had faith that he would bring about justice for their loved one. Cameron has said that after prosecutors were presented with all the evidence against Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myle Cosgrove, the prosecutors believed that the officers were justified to use force because Taylor’s boyfriend fired. Cameron also admitted that he never asked the grand jury to review charges of homicide against the police for Breonna Taylor’s killing. Legal experts explained that Kentucky’s self-defense laws make it unlikely that Mattingly and Cosgrove could be indicted on murder charges because Walker fired first. Civil rights attorney Areva Martin that it is difficult to get an indictment against police officers because in the criminal justice system, prosecutors and police officers often work together. She also stated that it is a low bar to get an indictment via grand jury as the prosecutors control all of the information and witnesses presented.
The recording was released on Friday, Oct. 2 at noon. It describes the police officers knocking on the door for over two minutes before deciding to force it open. Cameron is confident that once the public listens to the recording and hears what happened, they will feel that the case presented to the jury was thorough.