We knew this would get ugly for Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron and for the Louisville PD, and now the bill is coming due for both. Grand jurors sued for the right to speak publicly about their deliberations after Cameron declared that they had agreed that no charges except reckless endangerment were warranted in the Breonna Taylor killing. CBS News teased an interview with two of the grand jurors that will air tomorrow morning, both of whom angrily dispute that characterization. They both claim that the AG’s office denied them the opportunity to consider other charges.
One of the two declares that police acted in a “criminal” fashion in the raid:
Both grand jurors told the station they believed cops were at fault in the raid that led to Taylor’s death in a barrage of police bullets.
“Negligent,” said one of the men, identified by the station as Juror No. 1. “They couldn’t even provide a risk assessment, and it sounded like they hadn’t done one. So, their organization leading up to this was lacking. That’s what I mean by they were negligent in the operations.”
Juror No. 2 told co-host Gayle King that he believed the actions of the three cops — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Det. Myles Cosgrove, and since-fired Det. Brett Hankison — were “criminal.”
“They were criminal leading up to this,” he said. “The way they moved forward on it, including the warrant, was deception.”
After Cameron’s initial press conference on September 23, two of the grand jurors went to court to ask to lift the secrecy of their deliberations. The clear implication was that Cameron misled the public in his characterization of the decision. By the end of the month, Cameron reversed himself and admitted that the grand jury did not have the carte blanche he declared on a whole range of potential charges. Instead, Cameron’s office had limited the grand jury to just the endangerment charge, which meant that jurors felt confined to that narrow issue.
That is certainly within the purview of prosecutors. They have the discretion to limit grand-jury presentations to only those charges on which they feel confident of securing a conviction. That’s arguably a smarter approach than a carte blanche in a highly emotional and political pressure cooker. However, that should have been Cameron’s initial explanation. Instead, he squandered his credibility by either exaggerating or flat-out lying about how his office approached the case, which makes it look like the AG’s office was relying on grand-jury secrecy to cover up for the Louisville PD.
From the facts of the case known so far, this might have been the right call anyway. If Kenneth Walker shot at them, then police had the right to defend themselves. Now, however, who will trust Cameron’s exercise of discretion?
One more interesting point: so far, it appears that only these two jurors have a public beef with Cameron and the police department. Will we hear the same complaints from other grand jurors? Or were these the only two that were offended by Cameron and what happened in this case?