Breonna Taylor Grand Jurors Tell Gayle King the Trial Proceedings Were a "Betrayal"

Elena Nicolaou
·5 min read
Photo credit: CBS
Photo credit: CBS

From Oprah Magazine

  • On CBS This Morning, Gayle King spoke to two anonymous grand jurors in the Breonna Taylor case, the first of 12 to speak publicly.

  • The jurors say they were never given an opportunity to consider murder or manslaughter charges in Breonna Taylor's case.

  • One juror called the proceedings a "betrayal."

Breonna Taylor was 26 years old when she was shot and killed in her own home by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky. No officers have been charged with Taylor's wrongful death.

And due to a grand jury proceedings, none will be. During a press conference on September 23, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said "the grand jury agreed" that the officers who shot Taylor were justified in their use of force, after Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire.

Now, members of that very grand jury are speaking out—and they say they did not agree. In an exclusive interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning that aired October 28, two members of the grand jury—and the first of 12 to speak publicly—revealed that they were never presented with the option to consider indicting officers on charges like murder or manslaughter.

"It was a betrayal," Juror No. 2 said. "They didn't give us the charges up front…when they gave us all of that testimony, over 20-something hours, and then to say that these are the only charges that they're coming up with, it's like, 'Well, what did we just sit through?'"

Taylor, an emergency medical technician with no criminal record, was shot and killed during an unexpected drug raid. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly says the other six officers present knocked and announced themselves at Taylor's apartment. In another CBS interview with Gayle, Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend, disagreed, and said the couple only heard banging on the door.

Believing this to be a home invasion, Walker says he fired one shot; the officers responded with a barrage of bullets that killed Taylor. Walker, 27, was indicted for attempted murder of a police officer and assault. The charges were dismissed after the case became a matter of national attention, and Taylor became the face of a movement calling out systemic racism.

After being presented with the evidence of what transpired the evening of March 13, the jurors described "uproar" within the grand jury when they were told the only charges levied would be wanton endangerment, adding that "almost the entire room" inquired about the decision. Juror No. 1 recalled that prosecutors said "there were other possible charges" that were considered, but none they could "make stick."

Ultimately, Officer Brett Hankison was indicted on three charges of wanton endangerment—for shooting in Taylor's neighbor's apartment. "They never gave us the opportunity to deliberate on anything but the charges for Hankison," Juror No. 2 said. "That was it."

Having seen the evidence, the jurors believe there was enough evidence to merit charges other than wanton endangerment. "There were several more charges that could have gone forward on all of those officers, or at least the three shooters," Juror No. 2 said.

The jurors said they were compelled to speak out following the press conference held by the Kentucky attorney general on September 23. Cameron said there were "six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law" considered, but ultimately "not applicable" in Taylor's case. He later told a local Kentucky TV station that if the grand jury "wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that."

Speaking to King, the jurors emphasized that they had never heard mention of those six homicide charges. "It was not presented to us," Juror No. 2 said. "We didn't get a choice in that at all, so I was livid. By the time I heard what he was saying, everything that came out of his mouth, I was saying, 'liar,' cause we didn't agree to anything."

Photo credit: Jon Cherry - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jon Cherry - Getty Images

Ultimately, the jurors believe Walker's account of the evening was more credible than the police officers'. "There are too many inconsistencies in their story," Juror No. 1 said. "I understand that, you know, in a situation like that, you may not remember…but I didn't find their testimony credible."

Juror No. 2 said the entire proceedings were a cover-up for the police's actions taken the evening of Taylor's death, which Juror No. 1 called "negligent."

"From the evidence that I heard, this thing started out downhill to begin with… You don't need seven cops to go up to somebody's door and knock on it and say, 'You know, we're here to do an investigation,' at 1:00 in the morning," Juror No. 2 said. "It was one mistake right after the other one…they covered it up...and I felt like there should have been lots more charges on them."

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