The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) called Tuesday for the appointment of a special prosecutor and new grand jury to examine the police killing of Breonna Taylor. LDF reviewed audio files from the jury proceedings and found that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s team “presented evidence in a biased manner that protected the involved officers rather than hold them accountable.”
Taylor was killed earlier this year when three police officers entered her apartment to serve a search warrant. Her boyfriend believed that the officers were intruders and fired one shot at an officer, which led to the officers returning fire and fatally shooting Taylor. On September 23 a grand jury returned an indictment against one of the officers involved in her death on charges of wanton endangerment. Kentucky’s Jefferson County Circuit Court released the recordings of the grand jury hearing on October 2, and the court ordered the release of new records from the investigation in late October.
LDF concluded in its report that the evidence provided to the grand jury by the prosecution was biased in five ways. This included “irrelevant and prejudicial statements” that distracted the grand jury from inquiry into the officers’ conduct, as well as relying on one witness’s claims that the officers were following protocol when multiple civilians witnesses stated otherwise. Prosecutors failed to provide body camera evidence and did not explain that lack of evidence, and they misled the jury regarding the validity of the search warrant. The prosecutors also failed to present evidence that the officers violated protocol.
The report also claims that the prosecution routinely ignored questions from the grand jury and that Cameron “usurped the grand jury’s duties” by “tailoring the presentation of evidence to prevent the grand jury from even considering legitimate potential charges.”
Because the Attorney General’s Office “displayed an inappropriate bias in favor of the officers,” the LDF called for the appointment of a special prosecutor and a new grand jury to examine Taylor’s killing. The LDF also called for the governor to establish a special prosecutor for cases involving law enforcement, and for the governor and Louisville City Council Members to issue an executive order requiring investigations of officers’ involvements in civilian deaths to be released to the public.