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Grand juror in Breonna Taylor case says homicide charges were not presented

Grand juror in Breonna Taylor case says homicide charges were not presented
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An anonymous Kentucky juror from the Breonna Taylor grand jury on Tuesday said state Attorney Daniel Cameron (R) never presented homicide charges for the officers who killed Taylor in her own home back in March.

The comments come from the same anonymous juror who filed a motion to be able to speak publicly about the case proceedings. 

“The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them,” the anonymous juror said in a statement that was released by attorney Kevin Glogower, who is representing two of the jurors. “The grand jury never heard 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."

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The juror’s statement came after Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell ruled earlier on Tuesday that the jurors on the grand jury could talk about the case publicly and answer any questions about the case.

Grand juries are secretive by nature, but O’Connell said that regular procedures “are no longer relevant” to the case.

"There exists additional interest 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," O'Connell said. “This is a rare and extraordinary example of a case where, at the time this motion is made, the historical reasons for preserving grand jury secrecy are null.”

The juror’s comments confirmed what Cameron himself had already acknowledged in an interview with a local Kentucky TV station back in September.

"They're an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that," Cameron said at the time.

The juror filed the request after Cameron announced that the grand jury had only indicted one of the three officers involved in the killing of Taylor.

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“The grand jury was not presented any charges other than the three wanton endangerment against [now-former] Detective Hankison,” the juror noted. 

The lesser charges of wanton endangerment sparked national outrage, as the charges weren’t directly related to the gunshots that killed Taylor.

During the press conference where he announced the charges, Cameron said that none of the 10 bullets that Hankison fired in Taylor's apartment hit her. Instead, multiple shots fired by Hankison traveled into an adjacent apartment where three people unrelated to the case resided, which is why he was charged. Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department in June after it was discovered that he fired “blindly” into Taylor’s apartment.

Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — the other two officers — combined to hit Taylor six times, with one of the bullets fired by Cosgrove proving to be fatal. However, Cameron said that under Kentucky law, the officers were “justified” in their use of deadly force since Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot first.

Walker has said he believed the officers to be intruders and never heard them announce themselves.

The three officers were at Taylor’s apartment with a no-knock warrant, but Cameron said the police banged loudly on the door and announced their presence. The head prosecutor said this was corroborated by a single civilian witness, though it has been reported that other witnesses present did not hear Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison announce themselves.

The juror also pushed back against Cameron’s assertion that the officers’ actions were justified.

“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 said.

Part of the juror’s original motion demanded that Cameron’s office release full transcripts of the grand jury proceedings.

Cameron had previously released roughly 15 hours of audio recordings of the proceedings but had vehemently opposed the jurors being able to speak freely about the case.

“I disagree with the Judge’s decision, but we will not appeal it,” Cameron said in a statement Tuesday night to The Hill. “As Special Prosecutor, it was my decision to ask for an indictment on charges that could be proven under Kentucky law. ...

“I remain confident in our presentation to the Grand Jury, and I stand by the team of lawyers and investigators who dedicated months of work to this case.”

The police killings of Taylor and George Floyd — both Black — became focal points during a tumultuous summer that featured nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the U.S.