Juror in Breonna Taylor case said grand jury didn’t agree fatal shooting was justified
A grand juror who heard evidence in the Breonna Taylor probe said Tuesday that the grand jury didn’t agree that her fatal shooting was justified, a disclosure that came after a Kentucky judge ordered records in the proceedings released to show if “publicly elected officials are being honest.”
In a statement, “Grand Juror #1,” as the person has been identified by lawyer Kevin Glogower, said that the only charge presented during the proceedings was wanton endangerment.
Former Louisville Police Det. Brett Hankison was indicted last month on that charge for firing shots into the apartment of Taylor’s neighbors on March 13.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office investigated the fatal shooting, has called the use of force justified.
Taylor, 26, was shot to death after officers with a no-knock warrant broke down her door during a narcotics investigation.
Taylor’s boyfriend, who fired once at police, has said he believed the raid was a home invasion. Cameron has said that bullet struck an officer, though local media have reported that a Kentucky State Police ballistics report does not support that conclusion.
Hankison was the only officer charged in the incident, and none of the officers — including the one who Cameron says fired the fatal shot — faced charges directly related to Taylor’s death.
In the statement, the grand juror said that homicide laws were not explained during the proceedings, even though the panel asked about them.
“Questions were asked about the additional charges and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick,” the statement said. “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 grand juror added that self-defense and justification laws were not explained either.
In a separate statement, another grand juror represented by Glogower said they were “pleased” with the judge’s ruling Tuesday and “will be discussing possible next steps with counsel.”
The statements came after Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell ruled that records in the proceedings could be released, allowing grand jury panelists to speak publicly and answer questions about the case.
While grand juries normally operate under the veil of secrecy, this case was unique because all parties are known to the public and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has given extensive statements on the case, according to O’Connell.
“To be clear, this court’s ruling on this motion is applicable only to this case,” O’Connell wrote.
“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.”
“As applied in this case, this court finds that the traditional justifications for secrecy in this matter are no longer relevant,” O’Connell wrote in her 11-page order. “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.”
In a statement, Cameron said he disagreed with the judge’s decision but will not appeal it.
He said that recordings of the proceedings had been published, and that “legal issues like causation, justification, and others were always at the forefront during the months of our investigation and had to be considered as my office analyzed the potential charges.”
“As Special Prosecutor, it was my decision to ask for an indictment on charges that could be proven under Kentucky law,” he said, adding that he remained confident in the presentation made to the grand jury.
Louisville attorney Leland Hulbert, a legal analyst for Louisville NBC affiliate WAVE, said this was a major ruling.
“I do think this ruling gives the grand jurors the ability to discuss what they heard in that private room,” Hulbert told NBC News. “That’s a landmark decision in my mind. You’d think that would be appealed because it’s so rarely done.”