Photo: Family members and supporters of Breonna Taylor held a press conference Sept. 25 in Louisville demanding the release of grandjury transcripts in the case. Audio recordings were released Oct. 2. Atty. Ben Crump (second from left), who represents the familyof Breonna Taylor and Tamika Palmer (second from right) with sup-porters.
The audio recordings from the grand jury hearing in the Breonna Taylor case were released one week after the family of the 26 year old young, Black woman and their attorneys held a press conference demanding Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron, release the transcripts.
Police said they knocked and announced themselves for a minute or more before bursting into Ms. Taylor’s apartment, but her boyfriend said he did not hear officers identify themselves, according to the grand jury recordings released Oct. 2. In a hail of gunfire from Louisville police that ensued, Ms. Taylor was killed.
The shooting occurred March 13 resulting from a “no-knock raid,”, but it was not until massive protests erupted that the case was brought to national attention. More anger and demonstrations continued with Atty. Daniel Cameron’s explanation of a grand jury decision to not directly charge three police officers in the killing of Ms. Taylor. The grand jury charged one of three Louisville narcotic unit police officers with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for recklessly shooting through Ms. Taylor’s apartment into the White neighbor’s unit next door.
Subsequently, one of the grand jurors filed a lawsuit demanding the records and transcripts of the proceedings be released to the public.
Former Detective Brett Hankinson was the only officer charged.
At a press conference in Frankford, Kentucky, Atty. Cameron was questioned about whether he made a recommendation to the grand jury to charge the other officers. He told reporters that “grand jury proceedings are secret, and so I’m not going to get into the specifics of details about that proceeding.”
He added: “What I will say is that we presented all of the information and they ultimately made a determination about whether to charge. In this instance, they decided to indict Detective Hankison.”
The grand juror requested the judge allow members of the panel to speak publicly about the evidence presented and the decision reached. According to the court document filed by the juror, it is stated in the handbook given to jurors in Jefferson County, Kentucky, “…to share, without divulging the content of any Grand Jury hearings, your experiences in the criminal justice system with your family, friends and neighbors.” The grand juror has chosen to remain anonymous.
“I am very comfortable with the recordings being released, because at this point transparency is probably going to be the only saving grace right now,” Chea K. Woolfolk, of local Louisville media group 502 Streamers, told The Final Call.
The Taylor case has many layers to it and releasing grand jury transcripts is what was requested, but Ms. Woolfolk said, her team also has audio recordings for now and are listening to them. “We have to be able to have the truth. There’s been so much misinformation, so much media spins, it has become a lot. But being able to listen to what he actually presented is what the general public needs to do. At this point, very few folks have any faith in the A.G. right now,” she said.
“I don’t know if it’s going to shed any new light on the case itself, but it will allow us to hear what he actually presented because a lot of people are upset, myself included. Because he did not present for a murder conviction, but only for the wanton endangerment,” noted Ms. Woolfork. “This transparency is needed, there’s a lot that has to be discussed and I feel like this is just the beginning, the audio is just the beginning. The corruption in LMPD, the false narrative, have been a major issue here.”
At Mr. Hankison’s Sept. 28 hearing the judge ordered the recordings be filed as part of discovery. Atty. Cameron requested a week delay to redact personal data from the 20 hours of recordings but was ordered by the judge to release them within two days. The judge gave Atty. Cameron an extension of time until noon Friday, Oct. 2.
In response to the release of the recordings many protestors and activists in Louisville expressed distrust for Atty. Cameron, the state’s first Black attorney general. Dee Muldrow is president of Louisville’s Theta Omega Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and also a community activist.
He is skeptical the recordings released are exactly what was presented and questions if they could have been altered in any way. “Why y’all think Atty. General Daniel ‘Scamron’ asked to delay the transcripts presented to the grand jury?” questioned Mr. Muldrow. “He only bought time to cover up more,” he charged.
Atty. Lonita Baker, one of the attorneys for Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, listened to the tapes but did not comment. Atty. Crump who also represents Ms. Palmer, said the case is not over and that another grand jury can be assembled. The family will also seek an independent prosecutor. (Associated Press contributed to this report.)