Kentucky’s attorney general on Friday filed into court records recordings of the grand jury proceedings that cleared three policemen of homicide charges in the death of Breonna Taylor, according to court records.
A notice of the filing was made with the Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk, and the 20-plus hours of audio recordings were attached. A court ruled on September 30 the content of the proceedings should be released.
The release offers a rare peek at the inner workings of a grand jury, which is normally kept secret, in a case that has captured national attention and prompted massive protests in the debate over racism and police use of force.
Acting on the recommendation of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who served as special prosecutor in the Taylor case, the grand jury last week cleared two white officers of homicide and charged a third with wanton endangerment in the March 13 shooting death of Taylor, 26, a Black emergency medical technician.
Officers had a “no-knock” warrant to search Taylor’s apartment for drugs. But Cameron later said officers announced themselves. It is a key issue because the officers said they opened fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a gunshot at them. Walker said he did not know the men who burst into the home were police.
“We knocked on the door, said police, waited I don’t know 10 or 15 seconds. Knocked again, said ‘police’, waited even longer,” Louisville police Lieutenant Shawn Hoover said in an interview recorded on March 13, the same day Taylor was shot, and later played for the grand jury, The Associated Press news agency reported.
“So it was the third time that we were approaching, it had been like 45 seconds if not a minute,” Hoover said. “And then I said: `Let’s go, let’s breach it.’”
Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first African American attorney general, has acknowledged he did not recommend homicide charges for the officers involved. He recommended only the one endangerment charge that was returned.
Signs are seen at a protest site in Louisville, Kentucky, demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police [Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath/Al Jazeera]Cameron said two officers who fired their guns, hitting Taylor, were justified because Taylor’s boyfriend had shot at them first. The boyfriend said he thought someone was breaking in.
The grand jury did charge fired Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a neighbouring apartment. No one was hit. He pleaded not guilty. Cameron said there was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s shots hit Taylor.
His office filed the recordings into the court file in connection with the trial of the one officer who was charged with wanton endangerment.
Protesters have taken to the streets to demand more accountability in the case. Activists, Taylor’s family and one of the jurors called for the grand jury file to be released.
The release comes a day after the first woman to lead the Louisville Metro Police Department, Yvette Gentry, was sworn in as the department’s interim chief.
Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron speaks about the Breonna Taylor case in September 2020 [Timothy D Easley/AP Foto]“I know I’m interim,” Gentry said at a small ceremony streamed on the department’s Facebook page. “But I represent something different to a lot of people being the first woman to take this title, so I’m not going to shortchange that.”