Kentucky A.G. Cameron seeks to silence jurors in Breonna Taylor case
A picture of Breonna Taylor at the Say Their Names Memorial at Emancipation Park, Oct. 7, 2020, in Houston. | Aaron M. Sprecher via AP

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron claimed weeks ago, when announcing the grand jury’s decision in Breonna Taylor’s shooting death, that justice only answered “to the facts and to the law.” Cameron’s recent motion to keep jurors who ruled on the case from speaking publicly about the proceedings, however, has many wondering whether the “facts” he presented had the intention of seeking justice for Taylor or instead pre-determined innocence for the officers involved.

On Oct. 2, Cameron’s office released 15 hours of audio from the grand jury proceedings on Taylor’s death. Since then, Taylor’s family has called on Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to appoint a new special prosecutor to reopen the case. The family claims that the recent recordings show that Cameron “did not serve as an unbiased prosecutor” and “intentionally did not present charges to the grand jury that would have pursued justice for Ms. Taylor.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is seeking to block members of the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case from speaking to the public about how his office presented the case to them. Here, Cameron speaks during the Republican National Convention on Aug. 25, 2020. He’s been billed as a rising star in the GOP and has garnered praise from President Donald Trump. | Susan Walsh / AP

On March 13, police officers Det. Myles Cosgrove, Det. Brent Hankison, and Sgt. John Mattingly raided Taylor’s home under a search warrant as part of a drug investigation. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, thought intruders were entering the apartment and fired a warning shot at the officers. The police returned a hailstorm of 20 bullets, six of which hit Taylor, resulting in the young Black woman’s death.

When Cameron first announced the grand jury’s decision in late September, the A.G. claimed that the jury believed officers Cosgrove and Mattingly were justified in their use of force and acted in self-defense. At the time, his office did not provide details of what he presented to the jury. After revealing that none of the officers would be charged in Taylor’s death, Cameron asked the world, “Do we really want the truth, or do we want a truth that fits our narrative?” Yet, it would appear that the Republican Kentucky A.G. had his own narrative that influenced what he presented to the jury.

Less than five days after Cameron’s announcement, an anonymous grand juror from the case filed a lawsuit demanding that the recorded proceedings of the grand jury be made public and that jurors be freed to speak about the case. Kevin Glogower, the attorney for the anonymous juror, told the press, “My client wants to make sure the truth gets out.” He added, “It it is about public trust and it is about transparency.”

In the official court filing of the suit, Glogower wrote: “The full story and absolute truth of how this matter was handled from beginning to end is now an issue of great public interest…. Attorney General Cameron attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them.”

The filing went on to accuse Cameron of using jurors “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for those decisions.”

Cameron himself has now admitted, in a recent interview with WDRB news, that he did not present any murder charges to the jury. The A.G. claimed that it was “not appropriate” to recommend charges for officers Mattingly and Cosgrove. This admission flies in the face of what Cameron told the nation weeks ago, when he said his job as special prosecutor was to set aside everything in pursuit of the truth.

One could argue that the truth of the matter is Cameron did not set aside his bias in going into the case, for he believed the officers were justified in firing their weapons. This bias seemingly resulted in him not giving the grand jury the option to bring the officers up on charges.

In defending his handling of the case, Cameron stated that the grand jury is “an independent body,” and “if they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that.” This explanation plays down the key role an A.G. has when presenting a case to the panel.

A grand jury is called when the state A.G., a federal U.S. attorney, or a county district attorney, needs help determining whether there is cause to believe a crime was committed. In situations when police use a weapon against a civilian, officers have a tendency to claim self-defense. This can make jurors hesitant to bring charges against the cop. In such instances, the A.G. plays a vital role in walking the jury through the case, examining the nuance and evidence so that the blanket self-defense justification isn’t automatically accepted by default.

It was A.G. Cameron’s job to be the people’s lawyer and to present a case that would ensure the best possible outcome in seeking accountability in Taylor’s death. Cameron’s own disclosure makes it clear that he had already decided the officers acted in self defense. This seems to have resulted in a nitpicking of evidence and testimony to steer the grand jury toward his predetermined verdict. Cameron claims that the grand jury could have made their own decision, but how would that have been possible given they had a guide (him) that led them to the decision he preferred?

Ongoing coverage of the Breonna Taylor case:

Grand Jury to America: Breonna Taylor’s life did not matter

NBA players denounce decision not to charge Breonna Taylor’s killers

Justice for Breonna Taylor: 87, including NFL player Kenny Stills, arrested

Seeking justice for Breonna Taylor: Essential health worker killed by police

Cameron also had the opportunity to not handle the case. His office admitted in an email to The Hill that the A.G. was asked to appoint a special prosecutor because of a conflict of interest by the Commonwealth’s Attorney, who at the time, was pursuing the prosecution of Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. Instead of appointing a prosecutor from another jurisdiction to oversee the case, Cameron decided his office would handle the investigation and prosecution.

Despite volunteering to take on this case, Cameron is putting all of the responsibility on the grand jury.

On Sept. 25, 2020, Black Lives Matter protesters march in Louisville to demand justice for Breonna Taylor. Hours of material in the grand jury proceedings for her fatal shooting by police have been made public, but an anonymous member of the grand jury says A.G. Daniel Cameron’s office presented the case in such a way that jurors were guided to not pursuing charges against the officers involved. | Darron Cummings / AP

Glogower told Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell that the goal of his client, the anonymous juror, wasn’t about publicizing evidence that hasn’t become public, but about the discussions that were held directly with the prosecutors. These discussions were not included in the 15 hours of recordings that were released to the public. Glogower gave a warning that future grand jurors wouldn’t want to serve if the prosecutor could “throw them under the bus, as happened here.”

Cameron wants the judge to dismiss the grand juror’s request. He claimed in a statement that the proceedings are kept confidential to protect the safety of all involved. Taylor’s family believes that the A.G. is continuing to stand in the way of justice.

Ben Crump and co-counsels Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, who represent Taylor’s family, released a statement to the press Thursday after Cameron filed his motion. The statement asserted that the attorney general has “something to hide.” The lawyers called Cameron’s motion a “slap in the face to Breonna’s family” and “another attempt to conceal the corruption of his office.”

Weeks ago, Cameron stated that he chose “the side of justice” and “the side of truth.” But it’s important to also note what other sides Cameron has chosen when it comes to his politics.

At the 2020 GOP national convention, Cameron was a featured speaker and declared himself a “proud Republican and supporter of President Donald Trump.” The A.G., considered a rising Republican star, received praise from Trump in his handling of Taylor’s case. It is clear that Cameron stands firmly with the Republican Party, which has been complacent in the face of a president who has continued to stoke the fires of division and racial strife. How then can the public be completely certain that this bias did not seep into what he presented to the grand jury?

Daniel Cameron wants the world to believe that justice was served, but videos of people pouring out into the streets still demanding the arrest of the cops that shot Breonna Taylor say otherwise. It is clear that Taylor’s family and people across the country want answers. There is clear frustration and confusion over how the law could determine no one is actually responsible for Taylor’s death despite evidence to the contrary.

Cameron has stated that “truth has to mean something in this society.” It would stand to reason then that he should have no issue with the jurors speaking their truth if he has nothing to hide.


CONTRIBUTOR

Chauncey K. Robinson
Chauncey K. Robinson

Chauncey K. Robinson believes that writing and media, in any capacity, should help to reflect the world around us, and be tools to help bring about progressive change. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, she has a strong belief in people power and strength. She is the Social Media Editor for People's World, along with being a journalist for the award winning publication. She’s a self professed geek and lover of pop culture. Chauncey seeks to make sure topics that affect working class people, peoples of color, and women are constantly in the spotlight and part of the discussion.

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