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Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron files motion to keep Breonna Taylor grand jury files secret

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron addresses the media following the return of a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor, in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Of the three Louisville Metro police officers being investigated, one was indicted. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

(CNN) — Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron wants to keep grand jury proceedings and testimony secret in the Breonna Taylor case, according to a motion filed Wednesday.

A judge had given Cameron until Wednesday to respond to a motion, filed last week by an anonymous grand juror on the Breonna Taylor case, that seeks the release of recordings, transcripts and reports of the grand jury relating to the case.

The motion asked to “make a binding declaration” that the grand juror has the right to disclose information, particularly to avoid fears that Cameron would attempt to use the court’s powers of contempt in case of a public disclosure.

Cameron led the investigation and presented the case to the grand jury.

The grand jury indicted former Louisville Metro Police Department detective Brett Hankison for first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly shooting through Taylor’s home into a neighbor’s apartment.

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He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police in her home during a botched drug raid in March. The attorney general said that two officers who shot at Taylor, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, were justified in their use of force because Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them first, hitting Mattingly.

The Louisville Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit has created a webpage with files pertaining to the Breonna Taylor investigation. While the webpage contains letters, body camera footage and interview transcripts, it does not contain material or documents either from Cameron or from the FBI’s independent investigation.

Last week, an attorney representing a grand juror suggested Cameron may have misrepresented to the public the case presented to the panel.

Cameron said grand juries operate in secret to protect the people involved.

“Allowing this disclosure would irreversibly alter Kentucky’s legal system by making it difficult for prosecutors and the public to have confidence in the secrecy of the grand jury process going forward,” he said Wednesday.

Oral arguments are set for Thursday in the case.

Cameron’s motion references what he says is a similar case filed by a grand juror in the 2014 police-involved shooting death of Michael Brown in Missouri.

That anonymous grand juror sought to “talk about the experience of serving on a grand jury, the evidence presented and the investigation in a way that could contribute to the public dialogue concerning race relations,” but was barred from doing so by state law that requires secrecy about grand jury deliberations.

The court rejected the grand juror’s request to completely invalidate the state’s grand jury secrecy laws, Cameron said. The case is going through federal court.

Cameron on Tuesday dismissed calls for a special prosecutor to investigate Taylor’s death and rebuked his critics in an interview with “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning.

Much of his ire was directed at Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who represents Taylor’s family.

“This is the Ben Crump model,” Cameron said.

“He goes into a city, creates a narrative, cherry picks facts to establish, to prove that narrative, creates chaos in a community, misrepresents the facts, and then he leaves with his money, and then asks the community to pick up the pieces,” Cameron said. “It is terribly offensive on his part to push such narratives, such falsehoods.”

Cameron, who spoke at the Republican National Convention, also took issue with rap star Megan Thee Stallion’s performance on “Saturday Night Live.”

During the show, she played an audio clip from activist Tamika Mallory saying, “Daniel Cameron is no different than the sellout Negroes that sold our people into slavery.”

“The fact that someone would get on national television and make disparaging comments about me because I’m simply trying to do my job is disgusting,” Cameron said, incorrectly attributing the comments to the rapper herself.

He said those types of comments are “something that I’ve had to experience, because I’m a Black Republican, because I stand up for truth and justice as opposed to giving in to a mob mentality.”

Lonita Baker, an attorney for Taylor’s family, criticized Cameron’s comments in a statement to CNN.

“It’s unfortunate that Daniel Cameron has referred to seeking justice for victims of police brutality as the ‘Crump Playbook.’ He can’t respond to the real criticism that he circumvented the grand jury process but yet he makes time to respond to Megan Thee Stallion’s Saturday Night Live performance,” Baker said.

“I’d much rather be fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor by demanding a prosecutor who will uphold Kentucky laws for all citizens rather than one who seeks to only protect his own political agenda. Daniel Cameron’s playbook is the real issue that needs to be discussed.

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