Council denies request for new prosecutor in Breonna Taylor case

Li Cohen

The Kentucky Prosecutors Advisory Council unanimously decided on Friday to not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the death of Breonna Taylor. The council argued that it does not have the legal authority to appoint the prosecutor, although attorneys for Taylor's family say otherwise. 

Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother, called for an independent special prosecutor and a new grand jury to be appointed to the case in October. 

Council member Christopher Cohron said during Friday's meeting that after reviewing Palmer's petition, he believes the council doesn't have the legal authority to grant her request.

The council unanimously agreed. But when it was asked if there was any opposition, members of the public watching the meeting virtually chimed in.

WLKY reporter Deni Kamper caught the moments after the decision was made, in which several people criticized the council. 

"You're wrong and you know it," one person could be heard saying. 

"You have the authority. You're scared," another said. 

Following the vote, several people who were watching the meeting turned on their mics. Here’s what they had to say about the decision: @WLKY pic.twitter.com/NMBvrMkITi

— Deni Kamper (@WLKYDeni) December 4, 2020

Palmer's October request for a new prosecutor came just days after two members of the original grand jury that reviewed Taylor's case anonymously told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King that they were not presented with the option to indict any of the police officers involved on charges directly linked to her death. 

None of the officers present on the night Taylor was killed were charged directly for her death. One officer, Brett Hankison, was charged with wanton endangerment for shooting at the apartment adjacent to Taylor's.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron told a local Kentucky TV station in September that if the grand jury "wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that."

"It was a betrayal," Juror No. 2 told "CBS This Morning." "They didn't give us the charges up front... when they gave us all of that testimony, over 20-something hours, and then to say that these are the only charges that they're coming up with, it's like, 'Well, what did we just sit through?'"

Lonita Baker, one of the attorneys representing Palmer, said case law supports Palmer's request for a new prosecutor, according to CBS affiliate WLKY

"There is plenty of authority that this council can appoint a special prosecutor by majority vote," Baker said.

Sam Aguiar, another of Palmer's attorneys, told CBS News the situation shows "how the cards stack so heavily in favor of law enforcement and against Black women." 

"Daniel Cameron completely undermined the integrity of our justice system, exposing its bias and the unethical conduct which happens behind the secret walls of grand jury proceedings," Aguiar said. "Rather than fix this, eight prosecutors today chose to condone it. Their failure to step up here was cowardly. The whole world now sees clearly how the blindness of lady justice does not exist in Kentucky for Black women."

Aguiar also said Palmer's team will likely file an action in the courts to better interpret the legislation the council was referring to in their decision. 

The council's decision came on the same day that Taylor's hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to rename Monroe Center Street NW "Breonna Taylor Way." 

"I want to make one thing clear," said Justice for Black Lives president Alyssa Bates at the ceremony. "That street sign is not equal justice, at all. Just because that street sign is being hanged, it does not mean we are going to settle. We are going to keep applying pressure to make sure justice is served."

NOAA scientists discover new species of gelatinous marine animal

CDC urges "universal mask use" as coronavirus cases skyrocket

Warner Bros. to stream all new movies in 2021