LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Attorneys and citizens say Wednesday’s grand jury decision in Breonna Taylor’s shooting death — and Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s limited explanation of it — raises troubling questions he has so far refused to answer.
The grand jury indicted former Detective Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing bullets that went into an apartment next to Taylor’s during the attempted March 13 search that went awry.
But no indictments were returned against Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly or Detective Myles Cosgrove, who fired the bullets that struck and killed the 26-year-old unarmed Black woman in her hallway that night.
Police said they announced their presence before using a battering ram to break in the door shortly before 1 a.m., but Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said they didn’t hear anyone say anything and fired a warning shot at what he thought was someone trying to break in. Police say his bullet hit Mattingly in the thigh, severing an artery, and the officers returned fire, killing Taylor.
Still, troubling questions remain about the grand jury’s decision:
How could Hankison be charged with wantonly endangering three of Taylor’s neighbors by shooting into their home — but not with endangering Taylor herself?
Even if Mattingly and Cosgrove had the right to defend themselves by returning fire against Walker after he shot at them and hit Mattingly, did they have justification to shoot and kill her, an unarmed person who posed no threat?
And did the grand jury even get to vote on whether Mattingly and Cosgrove should have been charged with any degree of homicide? Or did Cameron decide for them that they acted in self-defense?
Cameron declined to respond to those and other questions The Courier Journal posed.
In an email, spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said, “We are not scheduling interviews at this time.”
She also said: “Grand jury proceedings are confidential and not subject to disclosure. … As such, we have no further comment.”
But answers to those questions may be coming soon. Attorneys for Hankison and Walker are demanding the release of the grand jury transcript and the underlying evidence. Walker’s civil lawyers — Frederick Moore II, Steve Romines and Kevin Burke — filed a motion Saturday for that and all evidence collected by LMPD’s Professional Integrity Unit.
Romines is calling for the expedited discovery and release of the grand jury transcripts and recording by the attorney general’s office.
“It’s time for people to be able to see the basic information, facts and evidence, and to be able to come to their own conclusions about justice,” he said.
Announcing the results Wednesday, Cameron said: “According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”
He said he would not “get into the specifics” because “the proceedings themselves are secret. But what I will say is that our team walked them through every homicide offense.”
“What we did was uncover all the information and facts related to the morning of March 13, and then provided that information to the grand jury,” he said. “Ultimately, their conclusion was that the decision needed to be made to indict Mr. Hankison.”
Cameron’s office declined to respond to 14 questions submitted by email Thursday and again Friday by The Courier Journal about the case. The email Friday was addressed to Cameron and to his special prosecutors, Jim Lesousky and Barbara Whaley.