A woman who sat on the Breonna Taylor grand jury said she believes their investigation was incomplete and that prosecutors wanted to give police “a slap on the wrist and close it up.”
The woman is the third grand juror to speak anonymously about the September proceedings, joining two others who said the 12-member panel was not given the option to consider charges against the officers who fatally shot Taylor in March.
The woman, in her first published interview, told The Associated Press that when the proceedings concluded with three wanton endangerment charges for one officer, she felt herself saying “no, that’s not the end of it.”
“I felt like there should’ve been more charges,” she said in a phone interview. She echoed two other grand jurors’ complaints that the panel wasn’t allowed to consider additional charges because prosecutors told them the use of force was justified.
Former officer Brett Hankison was charged by the grand jury with three counts of wanton endangerment, a low-level felony, for firing into an adjacent apartment where people were present. The two officers who shot Taylor, according to ballistics evidence, were not charged by the grand jury. One of those officers, Jonathan Mattingly, was shot by Taylor’s boyfriend during the raid and returned fire. Taylor’s boyfriend said he thought an intruder was breaking into her apartment.
The officers were serving a narcotics warrant on March 13 when they shot Taylor, but no drugs or cash were found in her home. The 26-year-old Black woman was an emergency medical worker who had settled in for the night when police busted through her door. The shooting sparked months of protests in Louisville alongside national protests over racial injustice and police misconduct.
The woman on the grand jury said she didn’t understand why prosecutors didn’t consider endangerment charges against Mattingly and the other officer, Myles Cosgrove.
“All of them went in blindly, you really couldn’t see into that lady’s apartment as they explained to us, there was just a TV on,” she said of Taylor’s Louisville apartment. The police “went in there like the O.K. Corral, wanted dead or alive.”
Hankison was fired in June for his actions during the raid.
Cosgrove, in his testimony to investigators, said the apartment was completely dark and he saw “vivid white flashes” and a “distorted shadowy mass, a figure in front of me.” He fired his handgun 16 times, according to ballistics evidence.
Mattingly, who recovered from a gunshot wound to the leg, said in a media interview last month that Taylor “didn’t do anything to deserve a death sentence.”
Typically, grand juries meet in secret and the deliberations are kept sealed. But last month, a male grand juror won a court battle to address the public about the secret proceedings. Another male juror came forward soon after.
The woman said she and other jurors were rankled by Cameron’s statements after the proceedings, including that grand jurors “agreed” that no other charges were justified.
“I felt like he was trying to throw the blame on somebody else, that he felt like, we as jurors, we weren’t going to (speak) out,” she said. “He made it feel like it was all our fault, and it wasn’t.”
Cameron took on the investigation into the police actions on the night of Taylor’s death after the local prosecutor recused himself. Cameron had four staffers working on the case and had evidence analyzed by the FBI’s crime lab. He said at a widely-viewed news conference on Sept. 23 that the investigation determined that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their use of force because they had been fired on by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. He also said prosecutors “walked them through every homicide offence,” a statement the three grand jurors have disputed.
Kevin Glogower, an attorney for the three grand jurors, said Cameron apparently didn’t believe grand jurors would ever go public.
“The expectation that day was nobody would ever contradict what (Cameron) was saying,” Glogower said. “He was hiding behind the secrecy rule and the history of the grand jury.”
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, has called for another special prosecutor to be appointed to the case.
The grand juror said she decided to talk in part because she wanted Palmer to know “we didn’t have anything to do with” the lack of charges on the officers who shot Taylor.
“I didn’t feel that the family was getting justice,” she said.