Many of us were disappointed — though sadly not surprised — when the Grand Jury for the Breonna Taylor case declined to indict the officers who killed her. The fact that one officer would be charged for stray bullets that didn't kill anyone only added insult to injury.
These highly-secretive Grand Jury setups are famously slanted in favor of the police. The behind-closed-door process gives a lot of leeway to Attorneys General to sway the Grand Jury, with no opposing lawyer to offer another argument. In the case of Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, the Attorney General was criticized for essentially overwhelming the Grand Jury with irrelevant evidence; this provided plausible deniability for any bias, under the guise of "transparency," while also giving AG McCulloch plenty of wiggle room to shape the jurors' perspectives.
While juror identities are supposed to remain anonymous, one of the jurors in the Breonna Taylor case went public on Monday, saying that the deliberations were "misrepresented," accusing the AG of using the Grand Jury "as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility." From The New York Times:
A juror in the Breonna Taylor case contends that the Kentucky attorney general misrepresented the grand jury's deliberations and failed to offer the panel the option of indicting the two officers who fatally shot the young woman, according to the juror's lawyer.
The juror was unsettled by the fact that the grand jury was not given an option of charging the two officers at a time when the community has been roiled by demonstrations seeking their indictment. The 12-member panel was presented only with possible charges for Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired in June.
Now, the state AG has agreed to release the tapes of the deliberations.
Slate does a good job summing up the questions here, and pointing out what these recordings might reveal or clarify:
As additional evidence has trickled out, it has become clear that there is significant uncertainty about what exactly transpired during the raid of Taylor's apartment. How exactly did Cameron describe the sequence of events that played out during the raid? Grand jury deliberations are secret, but one of the jurors filed a motion Monday to make public the tapes of the proceedings after taking issue with how Cameron has described the grand jury proceedings that arrived at the conclusion not to charge. "Attorney General Cameron attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them," the juror's filing states. "The only exception to the responsibility he foisted upon the grand jurors was in his statement that they 'agreed' with his team's investigation that [two officers] were justified in their actions."
Kentucky Attorney General Agrees to Release Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Tapes [Elliot Hannon / Slate]
Grand Juror in Breonna Taylor Case Says Deliberations Were Misrepresented [Rukmini Callimachi / New York Times]
Image: Sharon Mollerus / Flickr (CC 2.0)