Breonna Taylor: Kentucky declines to appoint new special prosecutor

Protesters march with an effigy of Breonna Taylor during a demonstration held to demand justice. File Photo by Kyle Grillot/EPA-EFE
Protesters march with an effigy of Breonna Taylor during a demonstration held to demand justice. File Photo by Kyle Grillot/EPA-EFE

Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The Kentucky Prosecutors Advisory Council has denied a request to appoint a new special prosecutor to the case of March police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, asked for a new special prosecutor to present the case before a grand jury, saying Attorney General Daniel Cameron's handling of the case "undermines the trust and integrity of the entire process." The council voted unanimously Friday in a virtual meeting to decline Palmer's request for a new prosecutor, provoking outcry among the audience of more than 200.


The council members said they did not have the authority under state law to replace the prosecutor.

"We do not have the legal authority to fulfill the request that has been submitted," said Chris Cohron, a council member and the Commonwealth's Attorney in Warren County, who presented the council's findings before the vote, WDRB reported.


Attorneys for Taylor's family, including Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, responded in a statement Friday that 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 continued. "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's office has served as the the special prosecutor since Jefferson Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine recused himself in May because he was prosecuting Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who fired at police during the March raid that resulted in Taylor's death.

Charges of attempted murder of a police officer against Walker were dismissed in May. Walker fired a single shot "downward to scare away intruders," during the serving of a warrant on March 13, according to a complaint fired by attorney Steve Romines.

Police said they knocked and announced themselves for forcing entry into the apartment, but Walker said they didn't hear officers identify themselves.


The officers returned 32 shots, and Taylor was hit six times and died in her hallway.

Though Cameron chairs the council, he did not attend Friday's meeting.

Cameron announced in September that one of three officers involved in the raid was indicted, but not for Taylor's killing. The charges instead related to the firing of shots into the home next door. A Jefferson County grand jury indicted former officer Brett Hankison on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. The other two officers involved in the shooting, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not indicted.

In October, an anonymous grand juror said jurors were not advised about possible homicide charges against officers and did not agree the killing of Taylor was justified. Cameron has defended the indictment, saying it's based on charges that could be proven under state law.

Still, Palmer's attorneys accused Cameron of "biased internal decision," and failing to present "critical" evidence to the grand jury, important witnesses, cellphone data, ballistics and forensics testing.

"At a minimum, my daughter deserves, as do all aggrieved victims, a competent and capable prosecution team which is committed to properly investigating the case, evaluating the law from an unbiased lens, presenting the evidence and allowing the grand jurors to perform the functions guaranteed to them under the law," Palmer wrote in her request for a new special prosecutor.


Palmer and her attorneys had argued that a 1989 Kentucky Supreme Court case backed her request. A justice in the 1989 case had said the council can replace a prosecutor "in the event of 'incapacity,' 'refusal,' or 'failure' to act in any certain case or cases 'without sufficient grounds,' 'inability,' or 'conflict of interest."

Cohron said the judge's remark in the 31-year-old case was from a dissenting opinion.

"This comment by one justice lacks the power of law," Cohron said.

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