A grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case who filed a court motion seeking the release of the grand jury’s transcripts and permission from a judge to speak publicly did so out of a concern for truth and transparency, the juror’s lawyer said Tuesday.
“The grand juror that we represent felt compelled to take some sort of an action based upon the indictment that was rendered in the subsequent press conference and messages from the attorney general’s office about how everything played out,” Kevin Glogower, one of the juror’s lawyers, said at a news conference Tuesday.
In his 15 years in practice, Glogower said he had never seen a grand juror make such a request.
The grand juror retained his services Friday, two days after a grand jury indicted a former Louisville detective, Brett Hankison, on charges of wanton endangerment in connection with shots that strayed into another apartment.
“I think the only lag there was trying to wrestle through what they had seen reported and then released at the press conference and figuring out where they go from there,” Glogower said.
Hankison, who was fired in June, is accused of recklessly firing his gun during a raid on Taylor’s apartment in March. Neither Hankison nor the two officers who shot Taylor, Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, were directly charged in Taylor’s death. Cosgrove and Mattingly, who was wounded in the shooting, are on administrative leave. Hankison was arraigned Monday in Jefferson Circuit Court and pleaded not guilty. He is free on $15,000 bond.
During the arraignment, Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered that the recording of the grand jury proceedings be filed with the court by noon Wednesday. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had faced calls from the governor and mayor, among others, to post as much evidence as possible online. Last week, he said he would not because it would “compromise” a federal investigation into the incident “and violate a prosecutor’s ethical duties.”
On Monday night, Cameron said he would comply with the judge’s orders.
“The grand jury is meant to be a secretive body,” he said in a statement. “It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.”
Cameron also clarified “the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment.”
“Our prosecutors presented all of the evidence, even though the evidence supported that Sgt. Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Taylor’s boyfriend, he said.
Glogower noted that Cameron is going to release the grand jury recordings because he was ordered to publicly file it as discovery in Hankison’s criminal case. “So that’s not exactly the same as just a blanket release in my opinion,” Glogower said, adding that he expects audio or video testimony to be released.
Glogower said his client wanted to remain anonymous “or as anonymous as possible” and believed Cameron had misspoken when he said the grand jury “agreed” with his team’s investigation that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their actions.
“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 the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon,” Cameron said at a news conference last Wednesday.
The motion accuses Cameron of using the grand jurors “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for those decisions” and says that has led to “more seeds of doubt in the process.”
“The primary concern that our client has is, if you watched the press conference after the reading of the indictment, the attorney general laid a lot of responsibility at the grand juror’s feet,” Glogower said. “If you look at the statement that the attorney general’s office released yesterday, they attempted to walk that back. And I think the concerns as we noted in our motion of the grand juror probably got their attention and hopefully that’s going to help facilitate a little more transparency in how things occurred.”
Walker has said police did not identify themselves and that he mistook them for intruders. He fired his gun once after officers broke down Taylor’s door March 13. Cameron said that a single witness corroborated officers’ accounts that they knocked and announced themselves.
This is among the unresolved issues, Glogower said.
Cameron was asked pointedly by a reporter last week “why he made such a distinction between one witness regarding the knock and announce issue versus multiple other witnesses who said something different,” Glogower said.
“What we’re getting from the attorney general’s office twofold at this point is that they presented everything,” Glogower said. “I would submit to you, based on their own statements, they didn’t do that.”
Also at issue and among the things the public deserves to know, Glogower said, is whether the grand jury was given an option of charging the two officers who shot Taylor, an emergency medical technician. He questioned whether this is in the recording and if Cameron’s office presented all the charges they alluded to.
“That issue has not been directly addressed,” Glogower said. “And those are exactly the concerns that our client has, that we believe other grand jurors probably have and that the public has.”
It is unclear when the ruling will be made on whether grand jurors can speak publicly. There are anomalies in the Taylor case, Glower said, such as how long grand jury proceedings lasted.
“We know that it took roughly two-and-a-half days,” Glogower said, which he said is unprecedented in Jefferson County at the state level.
It is possible much of the proceedings may not have been recorded, Glogower said, in which case, allowing jurors to speak publicly could provide transparency in the case.
“The point of the whole action is to get more into the narrative. It’s not really about changing the narrative,” Glogower said. “It’s about opening it up to a more full truth for everybody to see.”