The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Kentucky attorney general seeks to ban Breonna Taylor grand juror from discussing proceedings

Fifteen hours of audio from the grand jury proceedings were released after no officers were directly charged in the killing of Breonna Taylor. (Video: The Washington Post)

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) filed a court motion Wednesday seeking to bar an unidentified grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case from speaking about the proceedings, which the juror alleges Cameron has publicly mischaracterized.

The motion comes the same day as the city of Louisville released a trove of documents from the police department’s internal investigation into the fatal shooting of Taylor while officers carried out a search warrant in March. The documents show other Louisville officers criticizing the raid and cast doubt on the police department’s justifications for the warrant, a key question addressed only in passing in recently released audio of the grand jury proceedings.

Cameron’s motion, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, argues that the broad disclosure sought by the juror would be unfair to witnesses and other jurors and would “set a dangerous legal precedent.”

“The grand jury process is secretive for a reason, to protect the safety and anonymity of all the grand jurors, witnesses, and innocent persons involved in the proceedings,” Cameron said in a statement. “Allowing this disclosure would irreversibly alter Kentucky’s legal system by making it difficult for prosecutors and the public to have confidence in the secrecy of the grand jury process going forward.”

The move follows a separate motion filed by a juror last week, claiming that Cameron had used “grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility” for the charging decision in Taylor’s death. Cameron initially said jurors agreed with prosecutors that no one should be directly charged with killing Taylor, but later said his office did not recommend homicide charges against any of the officers.

Kevin Glogower, an attorney for the juror, said in a statement Wednesday that the juror looks forward to knowing if they will be able to disclose how prosecutors handled the case “in an effort to promote public trust and transparency.”

Judge Annie O’Connell is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter Thursday, court records show.

Kentucky attorney general says he did not present homicide charges to grand jury in Breonna Taylor case

The killing of Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, fueled protests across the country over the summer amid a renewed national focus on racial justice and use of force by police. Questions in the case have continued to mount, and many remain after recordings of the grand jury proceedings became public last month.

None of the three officers who fired their weapons at Taylor’s apartment were directly charged in her killing. Former officer Brett Hankison, who was fired in the summer, faces three charges of first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly endangering three of Taylor’s neighbors when some of his bullets went into their apartment. Hankison has pleaded not guilty.

Cameron told reporters that the other two officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were justified in returning fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot first with a gun he legally possessed. Walker has said he believed the officers were intruders.

The newly released records fill in details and confirm previous reporting by news organizations including the Louisville Courier-Journal and local television station WDRB. According to an investigative report, police were told multiple times that no packages, “suspicious or otherwise,” had been delivered to Taylor’s home, despite an officer’s claim that he determined otherwise.

In an affidavit attached to the warrant, Detective Joshua Jaynes wrote that he saw Jamarcus Glover, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend and the subject of a drug investigation, leave Taylor’s apartment with a package in January. He also wrote that he “verified through a U.S. Postal Inspector” that Glover had been receiving packages there. Jaynes said this led him to believe that Glover was keeping drugs or proceeds from drug sales at Taylor’s home.

But in an interview later, Jaynes said that he got postal inspector confirmation through Mattingly. Kent Wicker, an attorney for Mattingly, disputed that his client conveyed any such confirmation.

In a statement Thursday, Wicker said officers from another police department, in Shively, Ky., told Mattingly they might have information about Glover. Mattingly passed the Shively officers’ contact information to Jaynes but never said Glover had received packages at Taylor’s home, Wicker said.

“Sgt. Mattingly did not draft the search warrant affidavit, did not sign it, and did not even see it before it was served,” Wicker said.

Louisville police sought help from Shively because of a previous falling-out with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Shively officer Timothy Salyer told police investigators. He said Mattingly texted him and his colleague, Mike Kuzma, in January, asking if they could flag packages sent to Taylor’s address and adding that Louisville police’s “target” was Glover.

Shively police reached out to a postal inspector about Taylor’s address and were told, “No boxes there” — a message they passed on to Mattingly and other Louisville officers, Salyer said.

Then, on April 10, Salyer said, he got a text from Jaynes asking about packages for Glover at Taylor’s apartment. Salyer said he found the communication “odd.”

“I kind of thought, this is a month after the shooting,” Salyer said. “And you’re just now asking me if there has been a box in his name delivered there. You wrote a search warrant on it saying it was delivered there.”

Salyer added that it looks like they’re “trying to cover” their tracks.

Asked in an interview about his contact with Louisville officers “since this all has come out,” Kuzma said he called Mattingly to ask why the affidavit said the Postal Service had confirmed that Glover was receiving packages at Taylor’s home. He said he reminded Mattingly that he had never said that and asked if Jaynes had spoken with another inspector.

Mattingly replied that he could not remember if he’d spoken with Jaynes about it, Kuzma said.

Jaynes told police investigators that Mattingly reported back that Glover was getting packages sent to Taylor’s apartment, but nothing that postal inspectors deemed suspicious.

Jaynes said he did not go in “depth” on the matter.

“‘Cause again, what I saw on my own two eyes just reaffirmed that he was getting mail there,” he said, adding, “It’s a reasonable assumption that if you see a guy go in the location, come out with a package, that he is getting mail there.”

Asked by an investigator why the warrant’s affidavit referenced Taylor getting packages for Glover, Jaynes emphasized that he had not meant to imply that those packages were suspicious.

Dwight Mitchell, a spokesperson for Louisville police, wrote in an email that the department’s professional standards unit continues to investigate whether any officers violated the police force’s policies or procedures. Kent Wicker, an attorney for Mattingly, declined to comment on the documents, and an attorney for Jaynes did not respond to a message.

Grand jury recordings capture dispute over Breonna Taylor’s final moments, but not prosecutors’ recommendations

The interviews also show that some members of the Louisville police had grave concerns about the raid, which Taylor’s family and activists have criticized as poorly planned and executed. The Courier-Journal and WDRB previously reported on interviews with SWAT team members who responded to Taylor’s home.

“It was just an egregious act,” Lt. Dale Massey, one of the SWAT team members, told police.

It just seemed like there’s no target identification whatsoever for those rounds that were shot inside the apartment,” he added.

Massey said the SWAT team was not even aware their colleagues would be raiding Taylor’s home. When calls about a shooting there came in, he said, “We were like, ‘what are you talking about?’ ” They were delayed getting to the scene, he added, because they had the wrong address at first.

The operation should have been mentioned in a briefing on the other, related warrants served that night, he said, and safety should have been the top priority.

There’s an “understanding” among officers in narcotics and an investigative team that “we’re not gonna rush in to get dope,” Massey said. “Human life’s more important than any amount of dope,” he added.

Massey also said he does not think Hankison was “removed from the scene,” though Massey said at the time that he should have been because he was involved in the shooting. Sgt. Jason Vance of the public integrity unit confirmed in one of the investigative reports that Hankison had left the scene without the peer support partner the police department requires officers to have after a critical incident.

A Kentucky State Police ballistics report included in the new documents also addresses another point of contention in the case: whether Walker fired the shot that struck Mattingly in the leg. The ballistics report could neither confirm nor rule out that the bullet that struck Mattingly came from Walker’s gun.

Steve Romines, an attorney for Walker, has argued that Mattingly could have been struck by other officers’ gunfire. Cameron has called that idea “silly” and said that officers’ guns did not match the bullet that injured Mattingly.

“To believe that idea is to suggest that somehow bullets that were fired from outside of the apartment, down the side of the apartment unit somehow it made a sharp turn left to hit Mattingly in order to match up with the entry wound,” he told WDRB.

An FBI investigation into the fatal shooting is ongoing and focuses on whether any officers violated federal civil rights laws, including while obtaining the search warrant.

This story has been updated since it was originally published on Oct. 7.