After Release Of Grand Jury Recordings, Community Leaders Want More Answers
It’s been less than two weeks since a Louisville grand jury handed down its decision in the Breonna Taylor case: no charges for the two officers who shot her, and three charges of wanton endangerment for former Louisville Metro Police officer Brett Hankison, for shooting into a neighboring apartment. Protesters, activists and Taylor’s own family have raised questions about what information the grand jury considered to reach those conclusions.
The release of more than 15 hours of grand jury testimony, much of it difficult to understand, has done little to answer those questions. If anything, some activists say, Cameron has more to answer for now than before their release.
“We do not feel Daniel Cameron gave an honest effort in this investigation to represent the life of Breonna Taylor,” said Brad Harrison, who runs the news website UrbanMaxx.com,at a news conference Sunday.
“The grand jury hearing was heavily, heavily weighted to favor law enforcement. If you listen to the grand jury recordings...it’s a police narrative," he said. "The entire grand jury proceeding was a narrative of the LMPD officers that were on the scene that night.”
A large chunk of the audio was interviews the officers did with LMPD's Public Integrity Unit after the shooting. Grand jurors also heard an interview with Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, and investigators recounted interviews they did with neighbors.
Harrison said, "no disrespect to Cameron," but he wants to see a special prosecutor appointed to re-examine the question of charges in Taylor’s death.
Shameka Parrish-Wright with the Kentucky Alliance Against Racial and Political Repression echoed that call.
"Brad took it easy on the Attorney General," Parrish-Wright said Sunday. "I do not respect a Black man that allows himself to be the face of injustice for political gain or taking care of his buddies in office."
Cameron’s office took on the Taylor case after Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine recused himself. Wine cited a conflict of interest because, at the time, he was prosecuting Walker for firing one shot and striking Sgt. Jon Mattingly that night. Walker has said he believed the police officers were intruders. Wine's office has since dropped those charges.
Typically, a special prosecutor is only appointed in cases where there is a conflict of interest.
Christopher 2X, who runs the anti-gun violence organization Christopher 2X Game Changers, was with Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s mother, when she learned what the grand jury had decided. He said in a press conference Sunday that just releasing the recordings is not enough to get the family and the community to trust Cameron’s process.
“We need the silence lifted off the grand jurors so we can really get a human feeling of what’s going on," 2X said. "The tapes can’t give you that, to be quite honest. They just can’t.”
One of the 12 grand jurors has asked a judge to allow them to identify themselves and speak publicly about the case. The motion says Cameron has used the grand jurors to "deflect accountability and responsibility".
Judge Annie O’Connell is expected to consider that motion Monday.
On Sunday, 2X said he has now heard from a second juror who also wants to speak publicly.
“That grand juror, in my opinion, is expressing frustration and hurt...I’m doing my civic duty, that I was called on to do, but something went south,” 2X said.
On Saturday night, the criticism of Cameron got a national platform when Megan Thee Stallion, Saturday Night Live’s musical guest, performed her hit single “Savage” on a stage decorated with the words “Protect Black Women”
She interrupted the song with the sounds of gun shots, followed by audio clips of Malcolm X and Until Freedom founder Tamika Mallory.
“Daniel Cameron is no different than the sellout Negroes that sold our people into slavery," Mallory can be heard saying.
And then the rapper followed up in her own words: "We need to protect our Black women and love our Black women cause at the end of the day, we need our Black women," she said.
Cameron’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the prospect of appointing a special prosecutor, calls for more transparency or Megan Thee Stallion.