November 29, 2020

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Second Breonna Taylor juror speaks out about wanton endangerment charges

A second grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case has come forward to claim that the panel was not given an opportunity to consider homicide charges against the Louisville police officers involved in the 26-year-old EMT's death

A second grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case has come forward to claim that the panel was not given an opportunity to consider homicide charges against the Louisville police officers involved in the 26-year-old EMT's death

A second grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case has come forward to claim that the panel was not given an opportunity to consider homicide charges against the Louisville police officers involved in the 26-year-old EMT’s death 

A second grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case has come forward to claim that the panel was not given an opportunity to consider homicide charges against the Louisville police officers involved in the 26-year-old EMT’s death. 

‘The Grand Jury was only allowed to consider the three wanton endangerment charges against Detective Brett Hankison,’ the anonymous juror said in a written statement released on Thursday.

 ‘No opportunity to consider anything else was permitted.’  

The statement echoes one given by another juror earlier this week who similarly said that the panel ‘did not have homicide offenses explained to them’.    

That juror claimed that the panel was only presented with wanton endangerment charges against Hankison – one of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers who served a no-knock narcotics warrant at Taylor’s apartment on March 13.   

Hankison was subsequently indicted on that charge for shooting into a neighbors home during the botched raid.

The other two officers, Myles Cosgrove and John Mattingly, were not charged.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron previously acknowledged wanton endangerment was the only charge recommended to the jury, however he has stated that prosecutors ‘walked the grand jury through every homicide offense’.

He also said ‘the grand jury agreed’ that the officers who shot Taylor were ‘justified’ in returning fire after they were shot at by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend.  

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (pictured) has acknowledged wanton endangerment was the only charge recommended to the grand jury but said prosecutors 'walked the grand jury through every homicide offense'

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (pictured) has acknowledged wanton endangerment was the only charge recommended to the grand jury but said prosecutors 'walked the grand jury through every homicide offense'

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (pictured) has acknowledged wanton endangerment was the only charge recommended to the grand jury but said prosecutors ‘walked the grand jury through every homicide offense’

The first anonymous grand juror challenged Cameron’s comments in Tuesday’s statement, saying: ‘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.’

‘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’. 

Members of the grand jury panel were given the green light to speak publicly under a Monday ruling from Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell.

In the same ruling, O’Connell ordered the release of grand jury records, citing the need to show if ‘publicly elected officials are being honest’.  

‘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 wrote in the ruling. 

O’Connell said she made her decision after considering ‘the interest of citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be assured that its publicly elected officials are being honest in their representations’. 

Cameron had opposed allowing grand jurors to speak about the proceedings in court, but on Tuesday said he would not appeal the judge’s ruling. 

Grand juries are typically secret meetings, though earlier this month the audio recordings of the proceedings in the Taylor case were released publicly. 

Taylor is pictured with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker

Taylor is pictured with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker

Breonna Taylor

Breonna Taylor

Cameron had argued that the officers were justified in firing into Taylor’s apartment because her boyfriend Walker (left with her) shot at them first  

Gunshots and blood are seen on a wall inside Taylor's apartment after the deadly raid

Gunshots and blood are seen on a wall inside Taylor's apartment after the deadly raid

Gunshots and blood are seen on a wall inside Taylor’s apartment after the deadly raid

Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were asleep in her apartment on March 13 when police broke down the door, looking for contraband in a narcotics case that focused on her ex-boyfriend.

Walker, who later said that he had thought the police were burglars, fired once, wounding one officer.

Three police officers – Hankison, Cosgrove and Mattingly – responded with 32 shots, six of which struck Taylor, who died at the scene.

The proceedings ended with the jury recommending no homicide charges against the three white officers in the case, an outcome that stoked days of protests over the use of excessive force by police against blacks and minorities.  

An anonymous grand juror who sat on the panel had sued to speak publicly about the secret grand jury proceeding last month. 

The suit suggested that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron may have misrepresented details of the case that the jury heard. 

Earlier this month, Cameron filed a motion asking a local court to dismiss the request from the grand juror. 

An anonymous grand juror who sat on the panel had sued to speak publicly about the secret grand jury proceeding last month. That juror issued the statement above at the time

An anonymous grand juror who sat on the panel had sued to speak publicly about the secret grand jury proceeding last month. That juror issued the statement above at the time

An anonymous grand juror who sat on the panel had sued to speak publicly about the secret grand jury proceeding last month. That juror issued the statement above at the time

Brett Hankison is the only cop out of the three who was charged. He was charged with wanton endangerment for a bullet that went into Taylor's neighbor's home

Brett Hankison is the only cop out of the three who was charged. He was charged with wanton endangerment for a bullet that went into Taylor's neighbor's home

Brett Hankison is the only cop out of the three who was charged. He was charged with wanton endangerment for a bullet that went into Taylor’s neighbor’s home

In the statement, Cameron expressed ‘concerns with a grand juror seeking to make anonymous and unlimited disclosures about the grand jury proceedings’ which he called secretive by firm legal precedent in order to protect the safety of all involved. 

He claimed it would ‘set a dangerous legal precedent’.   

On Tuesday, O’Connell wrote that any individual grand juror who wishes to identify themselves as a participant in the proceedings could do so, but was not compelled to do so.

She further wrote that the grand jurors needed to be certain that ‘their work is not mischaracterized by the very prosecutors on whom they relied to advise them’.

Cameron has said he did not introduce any homicide charges against the two officers who shot Taylor, because they were justified in returning fire after Taylor’s boyfriend shot at them.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Cameron would appeal the ruling.