Breonna Taylor case: Judge rules grand juror can talk publicly about case

Breonna Taylor case: Judge rules grand juror can talk publicly about case
A Kentucky judge ruled that a juror could discuss last month's grand jury case, when an indictment was handed down against a former Louisville police officer. (Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)

A Kentucky judge on Tuesday ruled that a grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case will be able to speak publicly about what happened during the proceedings.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell granted a motion filed by the anonymous juror last month after the grand jury indicted former Louisville Police Detective Brett Hankison of three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, WLKY reported. The charges against Hankison, who was fired in June, were unrelated to the death of Taylor, 26, who was killed in the early morning hours of March 13 after police entered her apartment.

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“This court finds that the traditional justifications for secrecy in this matter are no longer relevant and that the ends of justice require disclosure,” O’Connell wrote in her ruling.

Grand jury proceedings are typically secret, but the juror filed the motion in the belief that talking about the case would provide more transparency about what happened during the session, WLKY reported.

“This is a rare and extraordinary example of a case where, at the time this motion is made, the historical reasons for preserving grand jury secrecy are null,” O’Connell ruled.

O’Connell added that her order was not meant to persuade other jurors from coming forward. Instead, it “merely grants one grand juror’s request to do so and gives others the option.”

“No one grand juror speaks for the others, nor does one’s statement carry any more weight than another’s,” O’Connell wrote.

The judge said her ruling only applied to the Taylor case, WLKY reported.

In a statement shortly after the grand jury handed down its decision, a grand juror said the jurors were only presented with wanton endangerment charges against Hankison, WDRB reported.

“The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them,” the anonymous grand juror wrote in a statement issued by Louisville attorney Kevin Glogower. “The grand jury never heard about those laws. Self-defense or justification was never explained either. Questions were asked about additional charges and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick. The grand jury didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, not did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case. The grand jury was not given the opportunity to deliberate on those charges and deliberated only on what was presented to them. I can’t speak for other jurors but I can help the truth be told."

Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office had argued against the grand juror’s request, contending it would violate secrecy oaths, WLKY reported.

O’Connell called the objection “theatrical sturm and drang,” the television station reported.

Cameron decided for the grand jury that the two other officers involved in Taylor’s death -- Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove -- acted in self-defense when they returned fire after Mattingly was hit once by a shot fired by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, the Courier-Journal reported.

The officers were attempting to execute a search warrant at Taylor’s apartment, the newspaper reported.