Secret grand jury tapes in Breonna Taylor case to be released

Kentucky Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron
Kentucky Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron addresses the media following a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor.
(Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press)

Kentucky’s attorney general has agreed to release the recordings of the secret grand jury proceeding that considered charges against three officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron said he would comply with a judge’s order to do so after a member of the grand jury sued Monday to have the record of the proceedings opened to the public.

“We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” Cameron said in a written statement.

Cameron also said in a statement that the only charge he recommended to the grand jury was wanton endangerment. He had previously declined to provide details on what charges prosecutors brought to the grand jury to consider when it met in Louisville last week.


He said a recording of the grand jury proceedings would be released Wednesday.

“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,” Cameron said.

None of the the officers wound up being charged in the killing of Taylor, who was shot five times after police knocked down her door to serve a narcotics warrant March 13. The grand jury charged one officer, Brett Hankison, with endangering three of Taylor’s neighbors by firing through her home into an adjacent unit where bullets missed people.

Many Black residents of Louisville, Ky., are sadly familiar with marginalization and otherness, and have watched a system that vows to uphold justice fall short of its promise.

Cameron said last week that two of the officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, were justified in firing their weapons because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had fired at them. Mattingly was struck in the leg by a bullet. There was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s bullets hit Taylor, Cameron said.

A coroner’s report concluded that Taylor had been shot five times and died of multiple gunshot wounds. She tested negative for drugs and alcohol.

“Our prosecutors presented all of the evidence, even though the evidence supported that Sgt. Mattingly and Det. Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Cameron said in his latest statement. “For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment.”

Hankison, who was fired from the force for his actions during the raid, pleaded not guilty Monday.

Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron, who is Black, cited his own family when announcing the Breonna Taylor grand jury decision. Critics saw ‘crocodile tears.’

Also Monday, an unidentified grand juror filed a court motion asking a judge to release the record of the proceedings and to allow the panel’s members to talk publicly about their experiences. The motion said there was a “compelling public interest” to have the grand jury record released, and it accused Cameron of “using the grand jury to deflect accountability and responsibility for [the indictment] decisions.”

Cameron suggested that his office would not stand in the way of the motion. “We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” he said.

Cameron said that the grand jury is meant to be a “secretive body” but that he agreed to release the tapes because “it’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow” secrecy to be maintained.

Such a public disclosure of grand jury minutes is rare. Most states have laws that would make it impossible. Other states, such as California, allow it under very specific circumstances, and some places require a judge’s order.