The attorney general will share the information Wednesday on a judge’s order, despite concerns the release could compromise an ongoing investigation and cause other repercussions, spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said. Lawyers for Taylor’s family and a slew of leaders, including Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), have urged Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) to make the secretive grand jury process public, as questions mount over last week’s charging announcement.
Neither of the two Louisville police officers who shot Taylor in her home during a nighttime raid this March were indicted, while a former officer was charged with recklessly endangering neighbors. The outcome fueled protests and calls for transparency in a case that has sowed public distrust and become a rallying cry in protests over police killings of Black Americans.
“There is a compelling public interest for these proceedings to be released of a magnitude the city and Commonwealth have never seen before that could not be confined, weaving its way across the country,” reads the juror’s motion to release information. It suggests the attorney general has used jurors “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility.”
The motion says the juror fears Cameron “would attempt to utilize the court’s contempt powers … if there was a public disclosure that contradicted certain things that he stated happened during the proceedings, characterized the singularity of the decision in a different light, or raised doubts about charges that were presented during the proceedings.”
Cameron’s office had previously said sharing more information would be inappropriate with a criminal case and separate federal investigation ongoing. In a statement Monday, Kuhn emphasized that the grand jury “is meant to be a secretive body,” but it is “apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.”
The release of records will address the grand juror’s filing, Kuhn said.
“We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” she wrote in a statement. “Once the public listens to the recording, they will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the Grand Jury.”
Earlier Monday, during an arraignment for the former officer charged with wanton endangerment, a judge ordered a recording of the grand jury proceedings in the case be added to the court file by noon on Wednesday.
Cameron declined to describe the grand jury’s decision-making in detail during his news conference last week but emphasized jurors’ agency in the process, saying he gave them all the evidence he had. Activists and representatives of Taylor’s family have been skeptical, demanding more information on the case Cameron’s team presented.
Prosecutors determine what a grand jury hears, so they have enormous sway over the outcome, legal experts say.
“Did he present any evidence on Breonna Taylor’s behalf?” family lawyer Ben Crump asked last week. “Or did he make a unilateral decision to put his thumb on the scales of justice to help try to exonerate and justify the killing of Breonna Taylor by these police officers?”
The attorney general said last week that his only job was to “present the facts” and that he walked jurors through “every homicide offense, and also presented all of the information that was available to the grand jury.”
Cameron said the officers who shot Taylor acted in self-defense after Taylor’s boyfriend — who said he feared an intruder — fired a shot, precluding criminal charges. Cameron said one independent witness corroborated police’s account that they identified themselves before entering, raising questions for many about the basis for his conclusions.
The anonymous juror’s filing Monday took issue with Cameron’s framing of their process and sought the release of recordings and transcripts. Their motion asked the court to declare that members of the jury are free to detail their experience and discuss “any potential charges and defendants presented or not presented.”
“Attorney General Cameron attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them,” the juror’s filing states. “The only exception to the responsibility he foisted upon the grand jurors was in his statement that they ‘agreed’ with his team’s investigation that [two officers] were justified in their actions.”
It is not clear whether the jury seriously considered charges for Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, the two officers who shot Taylor and who were not indicted, said Les Abramson, a law professor at the University of Louisville. But Abramson thinks it’s unlikely because the jury’s public report only named Brett Hankison, the fired police officer who faces three counts of wanton endangerment for sending bullets into a nearby apartment.
The “foreperson” who announces the grand jury’s decisions must describe the results of a vote, “whether for or against indictment,” according to a Kentucky handbook for jurors. There was no mention last week of votes on charges for Mattingly and Cosgrove.
Marisa Iati contributed to this report.