Breonna Taylor's family lawyers ask the governor to appoint a new special attorney
By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) – Breonna Taylor's family lawyers said the battle for justice is not over. They asked the Kentucky governor to appoint a new special attorney to reopen the case and beat Attorney General Daniel Cameron for "deliberate" failure to present charges of murder against three white officers who killed the 26-year-old black woman in her own home have shot.
The request was made in an open letter to Governor Andy Beshear and came a day after the publication of 15 hours of tapes of a three-day grand jury hearing that resulted in an official being charged with willful hazard allegations, but not with Taylor's death.
"Unfortunately, Cameron was not an impartial prosecutor in this case and deliberately failed to bring charges to the grand jury that would do Ms. Taylor justice," said the letter to Beshear posted online by lawyers for Taylor's family.
One of the attorneys, Benjamin Crump, posted a message on Twitter with a link to the letter: "This fight is NOT over! We are calling for a new special prosecutor to reopen #Breonna Taylor's case?"
In the letter, the family asked for 10,000 signatures in support of the application, and by Sunday afternoon more than 7,800 people had signed.
"It is time for the leaders of Louisville and Kentucky to honor the value of their lives by holding those responsible for their deaths accountable," the letter said.
Beshear, who appointed Cameron as special attorney, has yet to respond to the letter.
On September 23, a Jefferson County grand jury sued former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three first-degree cases of wanton exposure in a shootout that killed Breonna Taylor. Neither he nor the other two officers involved in the fatal encounter were charged in their deaths. The charges against Hankison were related to bullets he fired that pierced a wall of Taylor's apartment and went into the apartment of a white family next door.
Louisville Metro Police Department officers Myles Cosgrove, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Hankison fired 32 shots in Taylor's apartment while serving a warrant at around 1 a.m. on March 13.
Cameron said Cosgrove, who fired 16 times at Taylor's apartment, and Mattingly, who fired six times, were found justified in their use of lethal force because Taylor's friend Kenneth Walker first fired a shot at them when they opened the apartment door. Hit mattingly in the thigh.
Speaking at a press conference following the grand jury's announcement, Cameron said, "That justification prevents us from tracking chargers if Breonna Taylor dies."
Cameron said last week that the only charge recommended to the grand jury was willful endangering Hankison, who was fired in June by the Louisville Metro Police Department for violating the department's guidelines during the shooting.
Hankison pleaded not guilty to the chargers during his September 28 trial. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered Cameron's office to publish the records of the grand jury hearing as part of the discovery in Hankison's case.
On Friday, Cameron's office published 15 hours more than 20 hours of records of what the prosecutors presented to the grand jury.
Cameron said he was "confident" that the records would show his office was a thorough case.
"I am confident that once the public hears the tapes, they will see that our team has submitted a thorough case to the Jefferson County Grand Jury," Cameron said in a statement. "Our presentation was based on the facts and evidence, and the grand jury received a full picture of the events surrounding Ms. Taylor's death on March 13th."
Much of the controversy in the high profile case centered on whether or not cops knocked on Taylor's door and identified themselves as police before using a battering ram to open Taylor's door.
Walker claimed the officer did not knock or announce himself before storming into the apartment. In a civil lawsuit against the city and police, Walker alleged he had fired a warning shot with his licensed 9mm pistol for mistaking the police for intruders.
But Cameron said the officers' testimony that they knocked and announced themselves was confirmed by an independent witness who was near Taylor's home when the warrant was carried out.
Taylor's family lawyers say there are at least 11 other witnesses who never heard the police knock on Taylor's door and announce their presence before entering the apartment.
A judge approved a "no-knock" order based on an affidavit from a detective that an ex-boyfriend of Taylor sent drug packages to her home through the US Postal Service.
No drugs were found in Taylor's home, and lawyers for Taylor's family allege the warrant was affixed to an affidavit containing lies.
During the grand jury hearing, detectives testified that even though the officers received a "no knock warrant" they were told to knock and come forward after they had been briefed on the possibility of Taylor's goddaughter is in the apartment.
The detectives also admitted that Taylor's ex-boyfriend, the target of the robbery, was already in custody when the officers arrived at Taylor's apartment.
Hankison, Mattingly, Cosgrove, and other officers involved in the warrant search all testified that they knocked on the door several times and announced they were police before entering the apartment.
During his testimony to the grand jury, Mattingly said when he entered the apartment he saw a man and a woman at the end of a hall and the man was in a shooting stance. He testified that he heard a "boom" and "I can feel the heat in my leg." At the same time, he said, he returned fire.
The grand jury also heard a taping of an interview the police had with Cosgrove.
In the interview, Cosgrove said he stood on the threshold of Taylor's front door and was "instantly overwhelmed by lightning bolts and darkness" and saw Mattingly fall to the floor. He said he opened fire when he noticed a "larger than normal human shadow" in the darkened apartment.
Cameron said Taylor was hit six times by bullets fired by Mattingly and Cosgrove, and ballistic analysis by the FBI showed that the fatal shot that hit Taylor was from Cosgrove's gun.
Prior to the grand jury's decision, the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor's family $ 12 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Taylor's mother for unlawful death. The settlement is also asking the city to initiate a series of reforms in the police department to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occur, including a revision of the way officers receive search warrants.
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