(The AEGIS Alliance) – LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – On Friday, Breonna Taylor’s family members and attorneys demanded that Kentucky’s attorney general release the grand jury proceedings transcripts. The grand jury decision resulted in none of the involved officers being appropriately charged in her fatal shooting, the Courier-Journal reported.
There were hectic protests in Louisville last night that continued the demonstrations before the following day’s press conference. Authorities arrested at least two dozen protesters Thursday night, a state legislator included. About 100 people were gathered on church property nearby in hopes of avoiding more people getting arrested.
Attorney for Breonna’s family, Benjamin Crump, questioned what evidence was presented to the jury by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Crump gave a speech on Friday at the epicenter of the protests in Jefferson Square Park. This was the family’s first press conference since after the decision announcement, according to the Courier-Journal.
Crump declared that the decision is part of a “pattern of the blatant disrespect and marginalization of Black people, but especially Black women.”
“There seem to be two justice systems in America: One for Black America, and one for white America,” Crump said, before leading the crowd in chants of “release the transcripts.”
An attorney for the family named Lonita Baker demanded that Cameron reveals if any charges against the Taylor shooting involved officers were presented to the jury.
“You can’t pawn this off on the grand jury if your office made that decision. Don’t tell us that the grand jury made this determination if it was truly your determination,” Baker said.
On Wednesday the grand jury indicted the fired in June Louisville officer Brett Hankison for wanton endangerment charges because he fired 10 gunshots into Taylor’s and an adjoining apartment while three people were inside the other unit. Basically, Hankison was only charged for disturbing people and putting lives at risk.
None of the officers who fired the fatal rounds have been charged. Cameron said Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker acted first and fired at officers. Walker has stood by his alibi that he thought someone was breaking into the apartment and only acted in self-defense.
On Wednesday Cameron cited the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings when he refused to tell members of the press if he made a recommendation to the grand jurors that they should exonerate all three cops of homicide charges.
It’s notable that other Kentucky prosecutors such as former Jefferson County commonwealth attorney Dave Stengel disclosed if they made grand jury recommendations in police shooting cases, and otherwise left decisions solely up to the grand jury to decide, the Courier-Journal noted. Prosecutors in other states have also done this.
The grand jury secrecy rule in Kentucky states, “all persons present during any part of the proceedings of a grand jury shall keep its proceedings and the testimony given before it secret.”
An expert on prosecutorial ethics who is recognized nationally and is a law teacher at New York’s Pace University named Bennett Gershman said that under those rules prosecutors could vote on if they should release their grand jury recommendations or if they should remain confidential. Gershman said he isn’t aware of any cases where a prosecutor was sanctioned for disclosing that information.
The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that Grand jury proceedings are kept secret for four reasons:
- To prevent those under investigation from interfering with witnesses;
- to encourage witnesses to speak freely;
- to reduce the chance that a person about to be indicted will flee;
- and to protect innocent people who may be grand jury targets but are never indicted.
One of Cameron’s spokespersons Elizabeth Kuhn released a statement on Friday that said the Kentucky AG “understands that the family of Ms. Breonna Taylor is in an incredible amount of pain and anguish, and he also understands that the outcome of the Grand Jury proceedings was not what they had hoped.”
“Regarding today’s statements at the press conference, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but prosecutors and grand jury members are bound by the facts and by the law.
Attorney-General Cameron is committed to doing everything he can to ensure the integrity of the prosecution before him and continue fulfilling his ethical obligations both as a prosecutor and as a partner in the ongoing federal investigation,” Kuhn stated.
Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer gave a statement on Friday that was read by Taylor’s aunt Bianca Austin that read “although Cameron had the power to help the city start healing, I knew he would never do his job.”
“I was reassured Wednesday of why I have no faith in the legal system, in the police, in the law. They are not made to protect us Black and brown people. Police robbed the world of a queen,” Palmer’s statement said.
On Friday morning Rep. Attica Scott, who got arrested during protests on Thursday night and was released from jail that morning, said she is going to do everything in her power to get Breonna’s Law passed. The law would ban no-knock search warrants in the state of Kentucky, the Courier-Journal wrote.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.