Louisville, KY– Today, Attorneys from the Grassroots Law Project and Attorney Sadiqa Reynolds, President and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, filed a pleading requesting that the Office of the Prosecutors Advisory Council appoint a special prosecutor to properly convene another grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case. They offered this pleading in support of one filed the day before by Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and her attorneys. The pleading can be found here.
The pleading argues that Attorney General Daniel Cameron abused his constitutional and ethical duties by failing to present applicable homicide charges to the grand jury, which is supposed to be an independent body and not merely an arm of the prosecutor. In this case, the police decided to barge into Breonna Taylor’s home, unannounced, in the middle of the night. And when one of the occupants, Mr. Walker, reasonably responded to what he thought were nighttime intruders by firing a single shot in self-defense, police chose to respond by firing 32 shots into the home, recklessly disregarding their own role in creating the situation and the very likelihood that an innocent bystander would get hit. That is exactly what happened, as police fire killed Breonna Taylor.
The grand jury could easily have found their behavior legally reckless and concluded that under Kentucky law, they forfeited their right to claim self-defense to homicide charges. Cameron, however, precluded the grand jury from evaluating the charges the factual evidence clearly supported, permitting them to only determine if police were criminally responsible for property damage to the neighbor’s home. Cameron’s actions showed that he valued property over Breonna Taylor’s life.
The pleading also argues that the AG then deliberately misled the public about what occurred during the grand jury, suggesting that it rejected homicide charges when they had never considered them. Only because of the bravery of two grand jurors did the public, and Ms. Taylor’s family, learn the truth.The attorneys argue that in order to restore the public trust in the integrity of the legal system, and to ensure that the laws and ethical rules of the state are followed, the council should appoint a special prosecutor to this case, unencumbered by ties to law enforcement.
“What happened to Breonna Taylor on the night of her murder was a tragedy, and so is what occurred after that event,” said Attorney Yodit Tewolde. “The top law enforcement agent in the state violated the constitution, his ethical duties, and tried to manipulate the system to achieve a particular result and insulate himself from political blow-back. If the council hopes to maintain public trust, it must appoint a new special prosecutor to this case.”
“Daniel Cameron’s abuse of the grand jury process, and his refusal to fight for Breonna Taylor, has even further eroded our hope that the criminal justice system is capable of delivering equal justice under the law. Our community has been delivered, yet another, back-breaking blow,” said Sadiqa Reynolds. “The only way to begin to establish trust in the legal system is for this council to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case with the integrity and honesty it deserves.”
“This case is not over. Not at all,” said Shaun King, Co-Founder of The Grassroots Law Project.” “When families are victimized by police, what we’ve learned is that the justice system continually bends over backwards to prevent those victims from ever receiving even a tiny measure of accountability. But the life of Breonna Taylor is simply too important for us to let go now. Dr. King once said that the ‘arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’ – well this is us bending it toward justice for Breonna and her family.”
The pleading can be found here.