Juror in Breonna Taylor case granted right to speak publicly
The juror says what was said in the jury room was not what was reported to the public
After Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron convened a grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case, the hope was that some justice would be served.
Instead, only one of the three officers, Brett Hankinson, who was involved in the botched raid that led to Taylor’s death was charged – and only for putting Taylor’s neighbors at risk.
Now, a grand juror has been granted the unusual right to discuss what went on during the grand jury investigation. According to WDRB in Louisville, the public’s right to know has superseded the usual secrecy granted when a grand jury is convened.
The unnamed female juror requested the right to speak freely, saying that she believes that the jurors were not given the option to consider other charges aside from wanton endangerment in Taylor’s case.
That is what Hankinson, who was fired from the Louisville police department in June, was charged with after firing blindly into the apartment complex where Taylor lived.
“The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them,” a statement released on behalf of the juror by Louisville attorney Kevin Glogower who is representing two of the grand jurors, said.
“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. The grand jury didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, not did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case. The grand jury was not given the opportunity to deliberate on those charges and deliberated only on what was presented to them. I can’t speak for other jurors but I can help the truth be told.”
Grand jury proceedings are done in private and the proceedings are often sealed. But in a 10-page ruling today, Jefferson Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell said that jurors had the right to discuss their experience, but warned them that the exposure could cause them problems.
“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,” O’Connell ruled. While just one juror made the request, O’Connell has given them all the right to speak with the following caveat.
“No one grand juror speaks for the others, nor does one’s statement carry any more weight than another’s,” O’Connell wrote. She added that jurors who wanted to reveal their participation should do so “with extreme caution, for to do so may result in a level of public attention and scrutiny over which this Court will have no control.”
Though Cameron objected to the release of the grand juror recordings, O’Connell pointed out that a judge, Ann Bailey Smith, has already ordered their release in Hankinson’s criminal case, according to the Courier-Journal.
Cameron, who asked the recordings not be released to preserve the secrecy of grand jury investigations, according to the outlet was denied as O’Connell said that Cameron himself had publicly shared much of their findings. She referred to his objection as ‘theatrical’ in her ruling.
Though Cameron requested time to appeal the ruling, there is no note that one was granted, according to WDRB.
Hours after the decision, Cameron responded on social media saying that while his office does not agree with the ruling they would not appeal it. Cameron also reiterated that his office was justified in their decision to only charge Hankinson.
“As special prosecutor, it was my decision to ask for an indictment on charges that could be proven under Kentucky law. Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to anyone. 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.”
Read the full statement below.
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