Controversy continues to follow the decision not to charge the Louisville police who shot and killed Breonna Taylor. In the latest development, an unnamed juror has come forward saying that Kentucky Attorney General David Cameron never allowed the jury to consider indicting the Louisville cops that shot Breonna Taylor after breaking into her home. It is also not clear who fired the shot that hit Sgt. Jon Mattingly in the leg the night of the incident.
Last week, protests occurred all over the U.S. demanding justice for Taylor and criticizing Cameron’s decision not to charge Louisville police officers Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove for shooting and killing Taylor in her home on March 13.
Instead, the AG charged the third officer, Brett Hankison, who had been fired earlier by the Louisville Police Department for reckless conduct, with three counts of “wanton endangerment.”
During his press conference announcing his decision not to charge officers Mattingly and Cosgrove, Cameron said that he had ruled out “friendly fire” from now former Louisville Metro officer Hankison as the source of the shot that hit Mattingly the night of the tragic no-knock raid. According to his statement about the events of that night, Mattingly said his being shot is what caused him and his partner Cosgrove to return fire, ultimately shooting and killing Taylor.
However, the Kentucky State Police in its report on the incident explained that, “due to limited markings of comparative value,” the 9-mm bullet that hit and exited Mattingly was neither “identified nor eliminated as having been fired” from Walker’s gun.”
Cameron reportedly based his conclusion on a report that all of the officers present had .40 caliber weapons and only Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker possessed a 9-mm handgun at the time. However, Steve Romines, one of Walker’s attorneys, during a CNN appearance said he had obtained a LMPD record showing Hankison had been issued a 9-mm weapon as well.
The juror through her attorney filed a court motion on Monday to have the transcripts from the grand jury proceedings released to the public. The juror also made a request to speak publicly about her experience on the grand jury. The Kentucky AG Cameron has reportedly granted both requests.
The juror’s lawyer said they came to him with concerns that Cameron had misrepresented what was put before the grand jury. According to the juror, Cameron misspoke when he said at a news conference, “There are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law. These charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed — and the grand jury agreed — that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon.”
According to the juror, this never happened. She said the grand jury was never given the opportunity or option to indict the officers who shot Taylor, but were only presented a case against Hankison. The former Louisville cop was eventually fired for shooting recklessly into Taylor’s apartment and shooting into a neighboring apartment. The grand jury indicted him on three felony counts of wanton endangerment.
“I never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with,” Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer said in a statement that was read by her sister, Bianca Austin, during a news conference in Louisville last week. “I was reassured Wednesday of why I have no faith in the legal system, in the police, in the law. They are not made to protect us Black and Brown people.”
Some pointed to Cameron’s involvement in the leadership of the Republican Party as an indication that his decision would be politicized. At the Republican National Convention in August he described the protesters calling for justice for George Floyd and Taylor as “anarchists mindlessly tear[ing] up American cities while attacking police and innocent bystanders.”
“Daniel Cameron in his ambition to remain a Republican rising star, mentored by McConnell and beloved by Trump, chose his career over justice and made the decision to use Breonna Taylor’s body as a stepping stone to reach even greater heights,” wrote Dave Zirin in The Nation. In the article he said Cameron’s decision besmirched the reputation of a city made famous by Muhammad Ali, accusing Cameron of desecrating “this holy ground” with his decision.
“Justice is not often easy and does not fit the mold of public opinion. And it does not conform to shifting standards,” Cameron said. “My job is to present the facts to the grand jury, and the grand jury then applies those facts to the law.”
His long press conference announcing the grand jury decision included further characterization of protests as “mob justice”: “Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice — it just becomes revenge.”
However, growing evidence revealed since his announcement casts social and legal doubt on his position. According to Louisville native and community activist Nicole Hayden of Friends of Nicole, the system appears to be taking out a kind of revenge on the community for demanding that justice be done in Breonna’s case.
“They are locking people up daily and creating bogus charges. One of our state senators was arrested for a curfew violation,” she said.
“We know that this city has failed us. We know it was never designed to give us justice. But this is a movement, not a moment. We will continue to move forward and pursue justice.
“Our reaction to the truth today says what kind of society we want to be,” Hayden said. “Do we really want the truth, or do we want a truth that fits our narrative? Do we want the facts, or are we content to blindly accept our own version of events?”
In light of recent events, that has yet to be determined.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.