A request to assign a new special prosecutor to review the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in the hands of Louisville police was rejected by the Kentucky Prosecutors Advisory Council on Friday, November 4.
According to The Courier-Journal, the Advisory Council, which consists of nine members – including the state’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron – voted unanimously to reject the request that was filed by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. Palmer and her legal team filed the request in October asking for “a competent and capable prosecutor willing to handle the case involving the death of my daughter.”
Taylor was killed in March by three Louisville police officers in the name of executing a no-knock-search warrant in her apartment. The police believed that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover was keeping drugs and money in her apartment, but there were no drugs or money in her apartment, the police found.
The three officers who fired the shots – Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove – were not charged in Taylor’s death by a grand jury on September 23. Only Hankison, who was fired in the aftermath of the incident, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for firing into the apartments of Taylor’s neighbors.
Following their decision – which was announced on a video call with over 200 participants – Taylor’s family, legal team and sympathizers registered their displeasure, with some storming into the building to make their feelings known.
“Opposed!” a woman reportedly said, with another also saying: “You’re wrong, and you know it.”
“You have the authority,” another said.
Palmer and her legal team filed the request mainly based on a Kentucky Supreme Court case in 1989 where a justice ruled that a prosecutor could be replaced by the council “in the event of ‘incapacity,’ ‘refusal’ or ‘failure’ to act in any certain case or cases ‘without sufficient grounds,’ ‘inability,’ or ‘conflict of interest,’” WDRB reported.
Palmer and her attorneys argued that Cameron did not fully disclose the complete details of the case to the grand jurors, adding that he did not adequately present the evidence and also “perform the job with honesty, integrity and free of bias.”
The council, in its announcement, however, said that case, in particular, was in relation to a private lawyer who was assisting prosecutors and the writings from the judge were a dissenting opinion, according to WDRB.
“This comment made by one justice lacks the power of law and is not only inapplicable to the present facts and circumstances, but is not dispositive of the issue,” Chris Cohron, a member of the council, said, adding that the council is unable to grant that request as it is not allowed by state law.
“Quite simply put we do not have the legal authority to fulfill the request that has been submitted.”
Following the announcement, attorneys for Taylor’s family, Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker released a statement saying the council “punted on the issue, inaccurately claiming that they lacked the ‘authority to fulfill the request that has been submitted.”
“This is yet another gross miscarriage of justice in this case, and yet another example of a system which is biased towards law enforcement members and which shuns Black women,” the statement said. “The level of cowardice that we have witnessed by the Louisville Police Department, the attorney general’s office, and now the council, is staggering.”
Cameron faced intense backlash after he announced the officers involved in the shooting weren’t going to be charged for her death. He also later admitted charges against the officers weren’t presented to the jurors except for Hankison’s, though he initially said the jury reached that decision with determination, The Courier-Journal reported. Three grand jurors who sat on the case also criticized Cameron, saying he should have allowed them to deliberate on charging all the officers.
“He basically took the decision out of their hands,” Aguiar said. “The grand jury is the one who makes the decisions. They’re the ones who decide what to indict. … They wanted to indict, and that decision was taken out of their hands.”
Aguiar also said they’re considering filing an ethics complaint against Cameron to the Kentucky Bar Association.
“That’s a gross violation of prosecutorial ethics.”