• Rueben Vargas

Prosecutor Acting in Breonna Taylor Case has “No Credibility”, says Local Public Defender

A Black Lives Matter Protest in Louisville, KY

The recordings of the grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case were released Friday, Oct. 2nd. In the days since, it has been revealed that Jefferson County Prosecutor Daniel Cameron only recommended the lesser charge of wanton endangerment against one of the three officers involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting. Other details the recordings reveal include a largely rushed process in which AG Cameron denied time and consideration for the jury in key pieces of evidence. This included bodycam footage from the incident on March 13th. An interview was conducted with local public defender Tiffiny Blacknell, who spoke candidly on the case and the decisions the prosecutor’s office made.

“[Detective Brett] Hankison…was the officer that shot into the neighboring apartments of Breonna Taylor. He wasn't from my understanding involved in actually shooting Taylor. He was not indicted for shooting either Briana Taylor or in the black neighbor’s apartment…I think that most people, when they think police not being held accountable, they want them to be charged with murder. Murder is a very specific crime. And while I'm not an attorney barred in Kentucky, I do understand the legal principles that are at play. We talk about holding officers accountable,” Blacknell said on how only one of the three officers was charged in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. Blacknell also explained what wanton endangerment was by using driving under the influence as an analogy. “The question becomes when you drink alcohol and chose to get behind the wheel of a car, did you disregard the risk that's inherent in being a driver who talks about it? I think that's kind of the layman's way to kind of understand what that means.”

What wasn’t lost on Blacknell was how Hankison was charged while Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were not. AG Cameron insisted that Mattingly and Cosgrove acted appropriately, citing how Breonna’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker opened fired on the officers when they executed the no-knock raid. This is despite how neighbors and Walker himself have testified that they did not hear the three officers announce themselves as LMPD. “It was clear by the fact that he called 911 and said that he had been the victim of an intruder. If you are a man and you are with your girlfriend and you hear someone breaking the door-that is why you are arms. That is why people are have a right to bear arms to prevent that sort of intrusion. Any man would do in his position. He defended his girlfriend, himself, and his castle. He had the right to do that,” said Blacknell. Kentucky is a castle doctrine state, in which residents have the legal right to use lethal force if necessary to defend their place of residence-their proverbial castle. Unlike other states, there is not stipulation that Kentucky residents have a duty to retreat.

Out of the 32 bullets fired into Taylor’s apartment, six fatally wounded her. All in a botched drug raid based on evidence that can, at best, be described as circumstantial. The target of the raid wasn’t Breonna herself but her ex-boyfriend and convicted drug trafficker Jamarcus Glover. Months after Breonna’s shooting, Jefferson County offered Glover a plea deal requiring him to name her as his conspirator. As previously reported, AG Daniel Cameron was heavily involved with the GOP both on the state and national level. “Law and Order” is a major talking point that President Trump himself has been using on the campaign trail. As such, Blacknell strongly believes there is active collusion going on in this case.

According to Blacknell, AG Cameron is acting on behalf of the Republican party as a token to try and suppress the largely justified anger of the black community against both the police and the State of Kentucky. “There's plenty of evidence that he was sent there to rubber stamp this investigation. He lied in public and made us believe that the jurors had reviewed the evidence and that they had said that he was justified when in fact [Cameron] never, ever even asked them to make that determination. Now we have a juror who comes out and outs him as being a liar, which is unprecedented…With that information, you have to know that there's some collusion because of lying and also not getting all the evidence to the jurors who even asked for it to see the footage. So, to me, he has no credibility.”

At the end of our interview, Blacknell expressed admiration to the activists on the streets in Louisville. “I've been in this criminal system reform movement for almost 20 years, and I'm so inspired by this generation of young people who are taking to the streets for being active on social media, who are holding people who are trying their best to hold people accountable. Don't stop moving to the streets. Don't stop voting. Don't stop tweeting. Don't stop on social media. Keep going and the world is watching us.”

Tiffiny Blacknell is a public defender who proudly serves the people of Inglewood. She is also a surrogate for District Attorney George Gascón in his bid to unseat DA Jackie Lacey. Special thanks to her for providing this much-needed insight on the case.