Kentucky’s attorney general has said he will release a recording of the grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case, after a judge ordered they be filed in court by noon on Wednesday. It follows an anonymous juror suing for them to be made public.
Attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said in a statement: “The Grand Jury is meant to be a secretive body. It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.”
Cameron said the special prosecutor had an “ethical obligation not to release the recording from the Grand Jury proceedings, and we stand by our belief that such a release could compromise the ongoing federal investigation and could have unintended consequences such as poisoning the jury pool”.
“Despite these concerns, we will comply with the Judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday. The release of the recording will also address the legal complaint filed by an anonymous grand juror.”
The anonymous grand juror had sued to release transcripts from the grand jury hearings in relation to the three police officers accused of shooting and killing Breonna Taylor, saying that court documents from the closed proceedings should be published and that jurors should be able speak publicly about the case.
“The full story and absolute truth of how this matter was handled from beginning to end is now an issue of great public interest and has become a large part of the discussion of public trust throughout the country,” the attorney for the juror wrote in the court filing.
The grand jury’s decision not to directly charge any of the officers with killing Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse, has led to protests in Kentucky and across the US. One officer, Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment related to shots that hit neighbors’ walls.
The filing on Monday specifically cited the Kentucky attorney general, Daniel Cameron, accusing him of using the grand jury “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for those decisions”, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
In Louisville, the city where Taylor was killed, the mayor on Monday lifted a curfew put in place amid the protests. Many people were charged with refusing to stop their night-time demonstrations.
The city’s mayor, Greg Fischer, said he allowed the curfew to expire as of 6.30am Monday.
Fischer said barriers and traffic restrictions set up downtown last week will remain but will be assessed daily.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky state representative Lisa Willner, a Louisville Democrat, said on Monday that she was starting to craft legislation that would narrow the scope of the state’s rioting statute. Her proposal, which she intends to offer in next year’s legislative session, would protect people from being charged with first-degree rioting if they are present but do not engage in destructive or violent actions.
Her response came after the Democratic state representative Attica Scott was charged with the felony last week while participating in Louisville protests for racial justice.
Scott was among demonstrators who converged downtown to express their disagreement with the grand jury decision. Many marched chanting “Breonna Taylor, say her name” and “no justice, no peace”.
Taylor, 26, was shot multiple times on 13 March after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire as officers entered her home during a narcotics raid related to an ex-boyfriend of Taylor’s, authorities said.
Walker said he didn’t know who was coming in and fired in self-defense. One officer was wounded.
The grand jury indicted one officer, who was already fired, on wanton endangerment charges, saying he shot repeatedly and blindly fired shots that could have hit Taylor’s neighbors.
Cameron said the other officers were not charged with Taylor’s killing because they acted to protect themselves.
Scott, the state’s only Black female representative, was arrested and charged on Thursday night with the felony of first-degree rioting as well as unlawful assembly and failure to disperse, which are misdemeanor offenses.
Police said Scott was in a group whose members damaged buildings and set fire to a library.
Scott called the charges “ludicrous” and said she would never be involved in setting fire to a library. She said she was arrested as she walked with her daughter to the sanctuary of a church.
Willner said Scott’s arrest “raises the question of how many others have been accused of rioting in the first degree – which is a felony – who are facing loss of voting rights, simply by being present”.
The only police officer indicted by a grand jury investigating the fatal shooting of Taylor pleaded not guilty to three counts of wanton endangerment at his arraignment on Monday, local media reported.
Hankison, a former detective, was fired from the Louisville metro police department in June for his actions during the raid.
He made his plea during an audio conference call before the Jefferson county circuit court judge Ann Bailey Smith, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.