Two grand jurors in the Breonna Taylor case said Wednesday that they believed three Louisville, Ky., police officers acted with negligence when they fired into Taylor’s apartment during a botched raid that left the 26-year-old woman dead. The jurors, who spoke to the press on the condition that their identities be withheld, also said they did not believe the officers’ accounts of the shooting.
Identified simply as “Juror One” and “Juror Two,” the two male jurors spoke at length about their experiences on the grand jury during a conference with reporters that was attended by their attorney, Kevin Glogower. Asked whether he considered any of the actions by the officers to have been criminal, Juror Two didn’t hesitate.
“From the evidence that I heard, yes.” Juror Two responded, adding of the March 13 raid, “They made mistake after mistake after mistake, and we know what the result was.”
The jurors decided to go public with their account of their time on the grand jury after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced last month that none of the three officers who shot into Taylor’s apartment — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove and former Detective Brett Hankison — would be charged directly with her death. Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into a nearby apartment.
After securing permission from a judge to speak publicly about the grand jury proceedings, the jurors told reporters Wednesday that the grand jury process, in which, according to Kentucky law, prosecutors are supposed to offer legal advice to jurors and draft indictments when requested, was highly controlled and seemed to be steered toward a specific result.
“It seemed to me that they deliberately did [the proceedings] backwards or sideways,” Juror Two said. “When we got to the end and only heard that they were going to offer three charges, there was an uproar.” The two jurors declined to go into detail about the other jurors and declined to elaborate on what specific charges they thought should have been filed.
At a Sept. 23 press conference, Cameron said that a grand jury had declined to bring homicide charges against the three Louisville police officers. Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the shooting because they fired in self-defense after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a warning shot “at the ground,” believing intruders were at the apartment. The bullet wounded Mattingly in the leg.
Both jurors, however, said the raid itself was poorly planned, exhibited a disregard for proper police procedure and showed a lack of leadership.
“They didn't know what they were doing,” Juror One said.
Juror Two described actions by the officers that he believes constitute negligence. Cosgrove, Juror Two said, fired 16 shots, which was excessive. “Some of those bullets went into other apartments.” The officer who was hit, Mattingly, reentered the line of fire after he was shot and didn’t have a “line of sight” for the shooter, Juror Two said. As for Hankison, Juror Two said it “was very obvious” that he couldn’t see inside the apartment. “So his actions were negligent and wanton endangerment.”
Walker has said that he and Taylor did not hear the police announce themselves and repeatedly asked who was at the door.
Both jurors said they did not believe Walker knew that police were at the door to the apartment that night. Juror Two later said he had issues with the officers’ accounts of the shooting to Louisville Metro Police investigators and felt that Walker’s testimony was “more truthful.”
“I get the impression that [Walker] did holler out, ‘Who is it?’” Juror Two said. “His shot was to warn, it was not to kill. He aimed down. Everything he said and the way that he said it, I felt, was believable.”
The officers, on the other hand, did not seem as credible to Juror Two. “I had problems believing what they were saying,” he said. “Particularly when most of them were saying they either blanked out, or dazed out, or they were confused and they couldn’t remember. There were way too many holes in it to make their stories believable.”
The jurors also said that Cameron was dishonest in how he portrayed the outcome of the grand jury deliberations during the press conference on Sept. 23, which played a role in the jurors deciding to come forward.
The jurors said they wanted Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, to know the truth.
“We never met Cameron,” Juror Two said. “We were never given the opportunity to deliberate on any other charges other than the ones against Hankison. We felt that there [were] probably more charges that could have been brought. But his statement was just false all the way around. We didn’t agree with anything he had to say, [because] we never saw him.”
Cameron’s office declined to comment on the jurors’ remarks on Wednesday, but referred to a statement it released last week that defended Cameron’s handling of the case.
The jurors’ comments come as attorneys for Taylor’s family seek another prosecutor to take on the case.
“I think that would be the proper way to proceed,” Juror One said.
Thumbnail credit: AP
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