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Kentucky AG announces he will release recording of grand jury proceedings in Bronna Taylor case

PHOTO CREDITS: TIMOTHY D. EASLEY/AP PHOTO 

On Monday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said that he will release the recording of secret grand jury proceedings that considered charges against three Louisville police officers in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

The decision came after an unnamed juror, who argued that Cameron misrepresented the grand jury’s deliberations in his announcement last week, filed a court motion seeking a release of the recording as well as permission to speak publicly to set the record straight. Cameron said in a statement published by CBS News that even though the grand jury proceedings are meant to be secret, he would comply with a judge’s order to release the recording later this week. “The Grand Jury is meant to be a secretive body,” Cameron said. “It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.” The juror argued that Cameron did not give the grand jury the option of indicting the two of the officers involved in Taylor’s fatal shooting. 

The attorney general’s office said it is “confident” in the case they presented but acknowledged that jurors were not given the option of indicting Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove in Taylor’s shooting. “The evidence supported that Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Taylor’s boyfriend, the statement said. “For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment.” Former Det. Brett Hankison, the lone officer fired after the shooting, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment after some of the bullets he “blindly” fired into Taylor’s home struck a wall adjoining her neighbors’ apartment. None of the three officers who fired their weapons were charged in Taylor’s death. Hankison pleaded not guilty on Monday.

“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 during the news conference last week. Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, called the grand jury process a “sham proceeding that did nothing to give Breonna Taylor a voice.” Ramon McGee, a longtime criminal defense lawyer, said the charges the attorney general presented to the grand jury was not problematic. “That is an incorrect assumption on how the grand jury process works,” he said. “Prosecutors make the decision on what witnesses are called, which evidence is tendered and what charges to recommend” (Yahoo News).

In his detailing of the facts in the case, Cameron said that in the early morning hours of March 13, the officers went to Taylor’s apartment to execute the warrant and were advised by superiors to knock and announce their presence in serving it. The officers did knock and said they announced their presence at the apartment, contrary to earlier accusations that they had not. Their announcement was corroborated by an independent witness who was near Taylor’s apartment. However, other residents have also said they did not hear the police announce themselves. When no one answered, the officers breached the door. They said Mattingly was the first, and only, officer to enter the residence. He identified two individuals standing beside one another at the end of the hall, a male and female. The male who was identified as Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was holding a gun, arms extended, in a shooting stance.  

Mattingly saw the man’s gun go off, heard a “boom”, and immediately knew he was shot because he felt heat in his upper thigh. It was concluded that Walker fired the shot that hit Mattingly and there is no evidence to support that injury by friendly fire from the other officers. Walker has already admitted that he was the first to shoot. The ballistics report also shows that the round that struck Mattingly was fired from a 9 mm handgun.  The officers fired .40 caliber handguns. However, one of Walker’s attorneys, Steve Romines, said last Wednesday that he had obtained a Louisville Metro Police Department record that shows that Hankison was issued a 9 mm gun (USA Today). 

Evidence shows that only one of Taylor’s six bullet wounds were fatal. Some bullets traveled through the walls and two other apartments. In one of those apartments, a male, pregnant female, and a child were at home. The attorney general’s investigation found that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force, after having been fired upon by Walker. The FBI Crime Lab was asked to conduct an ballistic analysis and concluded that the fatal shot was fired by Detective Cosgrove. “[Special Prosecution Unit] looked at both reports to determine if there were major differences in the procedures used by each lab that would have led the FBI to identify who fired the fatal shot,” the statement continues. “Both law enforcement agencies used similar equipment and analysis, but issued different findings.” The attorney general’s office contends that different conclusions create a “reasonable doubt in the evidence about who fired the fatal shot.” 

ARTICLE: CARSON CHOATE, DOMESTIC AFFAIRS EDITOR

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