A court released more than 15 hours of recorded grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case on Friday morning. The recordings capture interviews with witnesses and other evidence that was presented to the 12-person jury over two and a half days.
This is an extraordinary action that comes after a juror held that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron misrepresented the grand jury’s deliberations and did not offer the panel the option to indict the two other officers involved in the shooting that killed Taylor.
The unnamed juror filed a court motion on Sept. 28 asking for a release of transcripts and audio recordings of the secret grand jury deliberations from the Sept. 23 hearing that charged former officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. The juror also asked for permission to speak publicly about the decision to “set the record straight,” in the spirit of full transparency towards the public.
The office of the Attorney General granted the requests hastily, setting the recordings to be released on Wednesday, Sept. 30. However, the judge later granted a two-day delay in order to allow prosecutors more time to redact parts of the recording that may expose the personal information of witnesses and other sources that may have been disclosed in the proceedings.
The recordings were released ahead of the noon deadline on Oct. 2.
Brief reviews of the audio files by the New York Times suggest that there are contradictory testimonies about the entrance into Ms. Taylor’s home, a chaotic description of the scene by an officer, skepticism of evidence by the jury and claims from Hankison stating he thought someone in the apartment had a semiautomatic weapon.
The audio files do not include statements or recommendations from prosecutors about which charges they think should be brought against the officers.
However, according to Kevin M. Glogower, the juror’s lawyer, the juror was unsettled and felt as if the grand jury was not given the option of also charging officers Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly.
Grand jurors are given broad powers to request additional evidence and determine which charges to pursue, but prosecutors often guide jurors by presenting them with recommended charges to pursue.
Activists across the nation have been protesting for nearly five months, seeking the indictment of all parties involved in the shooting. Following the release of the decision to indict only Hankison, anger and frustration broke out across the nation, particularly in Louisville where two officers were shot.
“After I saw the verdict, I was extremely heartbroken, but unfortunately not surprised,” said Gabriella Marquez, a USC student majoring in political science. “Our nation’s criminal justice system has failed people of color time and time again.”
USC Sociology professor Nina Eliasoph says that while she thinks protests can be effective for specific changes, she believes the best way to address the flawed system is to vote for the change we want to see.
“[It’s difficult] when there are armed white nationalists [and] white supremacists coming in shooting people and when the police incite violence. In five weeks, we’re not going to have a revolution and change the system,” she said, encouraging the importance of voting for long-term change. “Everyone who goes to a BLM protest should get people to register.”
As of now, Cosgrove and Mattingly are still members of the Louisville police force and are not facing any criminal punishment.
Officer Cosgrove has since created a crowdsourcing fund on the Christian website GiveSendGo to collect money for his retirement fund. Mattingly has since defended his actions in an email shared on Twitter by reporter Roberto Aram Ferdman.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said it will also conduct its own review of the grand jury audio recordings and will make public its assessment of the case.
It is unclear how the Breonna Taylor case will proceed and if Cosgrove or Mattingly will have charges brought against them in light of this new development.