The Kentucky attorney general will have two additional days to release audio from the proceedings of the grand jury that considered charges in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Smith ruled that the attorney general’s office could have until noon Friday to upload the recording, Cameron spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said.
The recording will be added to the record in the case of Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police officer charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly shooting recklessly into a neighboring apartment during the raid in March that left Taylor dead. Hankison has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Attorneys for Hankison did not object to Cameron’s request for a delay in releasing the audio, said Stew Mathews, who represents the former officer.
The announcement of the postponement comes a day after Cameron told local television station WDRB that he did not recommend to the grand jury homicide charges against the two officers whose shots struck Taylor. He said those officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were “justified in their acts” because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot at them first.
Cameron’s remarks threw into question his assertion at a news conference last week that prosecutors outlined to the jury “every homicide offense, and also presented all of the information that was available.” He later said the only charge prosecutors recommended was wanton endangerment against Hankison.
While Cameron told WDRB that the jurors could pursue any indictments they wanted, the jury followed prosecutors’ recommendations and indicted only Hankison. No one was directly charged in the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician.
The decision outraged Taylor’s family and racial justice activists, who took to the streets in protest and demanded that Cameron make public the grand jury proceedings. The case became a flash point in the Black Lives Matter movement this summer as Black Americans expressed distrust in policing and anger at their treatment in the justice system.
Questions about the charging decision have continued to mount since Cameron announced the results, with evidence leaked to Vice News reinforcing a lack of public trust in the investigation. Late Monday, an unidentified grand juror filed a court motion requesting permission to speak publicly about the proceedings and accusing Cameron of “using grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility” for the charging decisions.
Kevin Glogower, an attorney for the juror, said Cameron “may not have presented” all the evidence to the jury, but that he could not be more specific until a recording of the proceedings was released and jurors were allowed to talk about the proceedings.
“The primary concern that our client has is, if you watched the news conference after the reading of the indictment, the attorney general laid a lot of responsibility at the grand jurors’ feet,” Glogower said Tuesday at a news conference. He added that Cameron’s office has since “attempted to walk that back.”
The grand jury recordings could shed light on some significant elements of the case, said Roger A. Fairfax Jr., a law professor at George Washington University and an expert in grand juries.
Among the things they could reveal are what kinds of legal instructions grand jurors received, what evidence was presented, how the laws connected with charges were described and “how exacting the cross-examination might have been of witnesses before the grand jury,” he said.
“You can mine a lot from these recordings,” Fairfax said.
Taylor was killed March 13, when plainclothes police officers broke through the door to her apartment with a battering ram as part of a drug investigation. Cameron said officers announced their presence, despite having a “no-knock” warrant, but Walker has disputed that.
When Mattingly entered the apartment, Walker fired one shot with a gun he legally possessed, striking Mattingly in the leg. Walker later said he thought the officers were intruders.
Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove fired a combined 32 shots in response, six of which struck Taylor and one of which was fatal. No drugs were found in the home.
Walker was charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, but the charges were dropped. Louisville has since banned the use of no-knock warrants, a risky tool meant to catch suspects by surprise.
Jeff Greer contributed to this report.
America’s Racial Reckoning: What you need to know
Full coverage: Race & Reckoning
Demographic changes: How the racial makeup of where you live has changed since 1990
George Floyd’s America: Examining systemic racism through the lens of his life