By Daniel Trotta
(Reuters) – Kentucky’s attorney general on Friday released audio recordings of the grand jury proceedings that cleared three policemen of homicide charges in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
The release offers a rare peek at the inner workings of a grand jury, which is normally kept secret, in a case that has captured national attention and prompted street protests in the debate over racism and police use of force.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed 14 audio files of grand jury testimony with the Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk. He had previously said there were more than 20 hours of proceedings, and Reuters has begun to review them.
Cameron served as special prosecutor in the Taylor case. Acting on his recommendation, the grand jury last week cleared two white officers of homicide and charged a third with wanton endangerment for stray bullets that hit a neighboring apartment in the March 13 shooting that led to the death of Taylor.
Cameron had revealed in a Louisville television interview on Tuesday that he recommended only the one endangerment charge that was returned, saying the grand jury had the responsibility to bring additional charges if it believed they were warranted.
Prosecutors have wide leeway in how to present evidence to a grand jury, which then decides whether to bring charges. Nine of the 12 grand jurors must agree on a charge in order to return an indictment.
Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes have supported street protests calling for the arrest of the officers and demanding justice for Taylor, 26, a Black emergency medical technician.
As the raid unfolded, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once at what he said he believed was a criminal intrusion, wounding one officer. Three officers then shot 32 rounds, six of which hit Taylor, killing her.
The Taylor family has won a $12 million wrongful death settlement from the city of Louisville but still asked for the evidence to be made public, questioning whether Cameron sought to shield the officers from criminal liability.
The Kentucky governor, Louisville’s mayor and even a member of the grand jury itself had called for the proceedings to be released, increasing the pressure on Cameron, a Black Republican whom President Donald Trump has praised as a rising star in the party.
In the end, it was the judge overseeing the criminal case of the officer charged with wanton endangerment who ordered the recordings to be entered in the court file, making them public.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Dan Grebler and Aurora Ellis)