Timothy D. Easley / AP
Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron on Monday denied allegations by Breonna Taylor’s family that they had improperly handled the case that led to charges against only one officer in the fatal shooting in March.
Explaining the circumstances that gave him control of the grand jury’s process, Cameron’s office said it had the “resources necessary to complete the investigation”.
“Our office has been asked to appoint a special attorney because of a conflict of interest by the Commonwealth attorney who was prosecuting Kenneth Walker at the time,” Elizabeth Kuhn, a Cameron spokeswoman, told NPR in an email.
Walker was Taylor’s boyfriend and was with her the night police broke into her home under an arrest warrant.
“The law allowed the Attorney General to appoint a prosecutor from another jurisdiction to oversee the case. Given the importance of the case and the resources required to complete the investigation, the Special Prosecutor continued to conduct the investigation and prosecute,” Continued Kuhn.
The statement follows the court’s 15 hours of audio recording and is in response to an open letter from Taylor’s lawyers alleging that Cameron did not serve as an unbiased prosecutor and asked a new special prosecutor to reopen her case.
The letter, posted on Ben Crump’s website over the weekend, urges Cameron to withdraw from any future legal proceedings related to the murder of Taylor by Louisville Metro police officers.
Crump notes that Cameron has been asked by the Commonwealth Prosecutor to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether charges should be brought against the three officers involved in the fatal shooting. Instead, the Attorney General decided to pursue the case himself.
“It is clearer now than ever that this was a case where you decided early on that your office would never actually take action against officials [Myles] Cosgrove, [Jonathan] Mattingly and everyone else responsible for Breonna Taylor’s unlawful death, “the letter reads.
“Since your office is unwilling to carry out your duties, we urge you to step back from this matter and have the Kentucky Attorney General appoint a special attorney who is willing to allow a grand jury to actually do their job getting things done, thinking about all sorts of things, charging fees, and making a decision about a real bill for everyone, ”he continued.
Although the attorney general did not initially answer questions about the charges he presented to the grand jury, Cameron said at the impending release of the court records he was not recommending any charges against the officers for the murder of the 26-year-old black woman.
The grand jury charged former LMPD detective Brett Hankison last month with three willful endangerment charges for shooting wildly at neighboring homes during the robbery.
Cosgrove and Mattingly, both of whom repeatedly shot in Taylor’s apartment and continued to be on the scene, were not charged.
The grand jury’s decision sparked angry protests last month, and as NPR’s Martin Kaste reports, “It has reinvigorated long-standing doubts about the role of grand juries, especially in cases involving the police.”
“A prosecutor leads the grand jury to whatever he has to do,” Heather Crabbe, an attorney who served as a defense attorney in northern Kentucky for six years, told NPR member station WFPL.
“”[A prosecutors tells] The jury, you know, the indictment before you and they are going to present the evidence in a way that will lead to the desired result, “she added.
Given that Cameron has never tried to bring police charges over Taylor’s death, Crabbe believes a second grand jury is unlikely.
“For the AG to do that, he would have to go back a lot of what he has already done,” said Crabbe. “And he would have to do a lot of legal gymnastics to explain why [Hankison] was charged with willful endangerment, for shots he missed that went into someone else’s home, and why the other officers were not charged in Breonna Taylor’s death. “