BREONNA TAYLOR - CRUMP PRESSER - 9-25-2020 2.jpg

Attorney Ben Crump and the family of Breonna Taylor are calling for the Kentucky attorney general to release the transcripts from the grand jury that decided not to charge any of the officers involved in Taylor's death.  Sept. 25, 2020 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Breonna Taylor's family and its lawyers joined activists Friday in demanding that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron release the transcripts from this week's grand jury proceedings.

Speaking in Jefferson Square Park, national civil rights attorney Ben Crump raised a litany of questions about what evidence jurors reviewed before indicting former Louisville police Det. Brett Hankison on three felony counts of wanton endangerment during the raid on Taylor's apartment in March. 

The grand jury's charges weren't connected to Taylor's death. Instead, they stem from Hankison firing into a neighboring unit occupied by a man, pregnant woman and child.

No charges were filed against Louisville Metro Police Department Sgt. Jon Mattingly and Det. Miles Cosgrove, who fired shots into Taylor's apartment. Taylor died after she was struck by one of Cosgrove's bullets, Cameron said an FBI ballistics analysis showed.

Standing in front of a Taylor mural and flanked by her family, Crump pressed for more information on what Cameron's office provided to the 12-person jury, which reached a decision Wednesday after meeting in secret. 

"What did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron present to the grand jury? Did he present any evidence on Breonna Taylor's behalf?" he said. "Or did he make a unilateral decision to put his thumb on the scales of justice to help try to exonerate and justify the killing of Breonna Taylor by these police officers?"

The Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure say grand jury proceedings and testimony are secret, although attorneys "may divulge such information" as necessary when preparing the "case for trial or other disposition," such as Hankison's possible criminal trial. 

Several lawyers who spoke with WDRB News Friday say that provision could allow for Cameron's office -- or even Hankison's attorney -- to make the grand jury information public. 

But Ted Shouse, a Louisville criminal defense attorney, said it's an "unsettled" area of the legal process "because individual prosecutors have taken different approaches to that in Kentucky." 

Cameron said Wednesday he would not release the information given to the grand jury, saying the proceedings are secret and citing the forthcoming prosecution of Hankison.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Gov. Andy Beshear have called on Cameron to provide as much information to the public, as long as it does not jeopardize other investigations. 

Fischer said Friday that he and city officials are working with Cameron to redact information and release as much of the evidence as possible. 

At the news conference, Crump questioned why the jury issued charges of wanton endangerment for firing into an apartment with white neighbors but not for shots that struck an upstairs unit with Black residents, as well as for the shots fired into Taylor apartment and those that "mutilated Breonna Taylor's body." 

Taylor was hit six times, Cameron said on Wednesday. 

Cameron said Mattingly, who had entered the apartment, and Cosgrove, who was standing in the doorway, shot into the unit in self-defense after fired upon by Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend. Taylor and Walker were standing in the hallway when police entered shortly before 1 a.m., according to evidence and testimony in several cases.

Walker has said he believed police were intruders and fired a single shot after they entered. The shot hit Mattingly in the leg, Cameron said this week. 

Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother, was at the press conference but did not speak. She issued a statement read by Bianca Austin, Taylor's aunt, that said, "I never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with. ... I knew he had already chosen to be on the wrong side of the law.

"What I had hoped is that he knew he had the power to do the right thing," Austin read. "That he had the power to start the healing of this city. ... What he helped me realize is it will always be us against them."

On Friday, Crump asked whether the jury reviewed the search warrant affidavit for Taylor's apartment, which was part of a broader, simultaneous series of raids early on March 13 connected to a narcotics investigation of Jamarcus Glover, whom Taylor had previously dated. 

Crump said the affidavit included a "lie," but he did not immediately elaborate. The affidavit, presented by Det. Joshua Jaynes to Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw on March 12, claimed that he "verified" through a U.S. postal inspector that Glover had been receiving packages at Taylor's home. 

Police believed Glover could be keeping drugs or money there, according to the affidavit. 

A postal inspector in Louisville told WDRB News in May that his office wasn't involved in the LMPD investigation and said it would be unusual for another jurisdiction to participate without notifying local officials. 

The FBI is investigating the circumstances surrounding the warrant, Cameron said.

Crump also sought to cast doubt on Cameron's statement Wednesday that a neighbor corroborated officers' accounts that they identified themselves before using a battering ram to enter Taylor's first-floor apartment on Springfield Drive near Pleasure Ridge Park. 

Officers in the undercover unit were not wearing body cameras, leading to a dispute over how clearly police announced their presence. The warrant Shaw signed allowed officers to enter without knocking, although police have said they identified themselves and knocked for at least 45 seconds. 

Crump said Louisville attorney Sam Aguiar's office interviewed 12 residents of the apartment complex who lived "in close proximity" to Taylor who "all said they did not hear the police knock and announce their presence."

"Did he let them testify before the grand jury?" Crump said. 

He said the neighbor who validated the police accounts had twice previously said he did not hear the officers knock on the door and identify themselves. 

"Is this the only person out of her apartment complex that he allowed to testify before the grand jury?" Crump said. "That doesn't seem fair." 

Aguiar, who has reviewed the investigative police file, said Cameron "got so much wrong" and "when everybody sees what really happened, this anger and frustration and curiosity we feel right now, it pales in comparison to what it's going to be when everything comes out."

At times during the press conference, chants of "Release the transcripts!" broke out. 

Elizabeth Kuhn, a Cameron spokeswoman, did not answer specific questions about the case submitted by email Friday, including whether Crump's claim about the witness previously saying officers did not announce their presence was correct.

She said in a general statement that Cameron understands the "incredible amount of pain and anguish" the family is going through and that the grand jury result was not "what they had hoped for."

However, as for the press conference on Friday, she said "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."

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.