LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A request by Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, for the appointment of a new prosecutor in her daughter’s case was denied Friday by the Kentucky Prosecutors Advisory Council (PAC), which said that it doesn’t have the authority to make such an appointment.
“The attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Prosecutors Advisory Council's duties and responsibilities as authorized under Kentucky law simply do not allow for the Prosecutors Advisory Council to usurp the authority of the attorney general,” Christopher T. Cohron, the Commonwealth's Attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit and a member of the council, said at Friday’s meeting. “Quite simply put we do no have the legal authority to fulfill the request that has been submitted.”
The full nine-member council agreed with Cohron, but many of the 200 or so people watching along on Zoom did not. Just after the council’s unanimous vote, members of the public unmuted their microphones and shouted their opposition.
“You’re wrong and you know it.” “You can all go to hell.” “You have the authority. You’re scared.”
Prior to the announcement, two lawyers representing Palmer, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker, made the case to the PAC that it could, in fact, appoint a special prosecutor. After the decision, Aguiar wrote on Facebook that more legal action is coming.
“We will likely be filing an action for the court system to interpret the legislation and rule that the discretion and authority is given under the statutes for a new prosecutor to be appointed,” he wrote.
The decision from the PAC comes a month and a half after Palmer asked the council to appoint a “competent and capable prosecutor willing to handle the case involving the death of my daughter.”
In the letter, Palmer took issue with many of Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s actions related to the grand jury proceedings in her daughter’s case, which took place in September and resulted in three charges, none related to Taylor's killing. Palmer most forcefully objected to Cameron’s decision to not present grand jurors with charges directly related to Taylor’s killing. Instead, he presented wanton endangerment charges against Detective Brett Hankison related to shots fired into apartments adjacent to Taylor’s. Hankison was charged on all three counts.
Cameron has defended that choice, saying in an October statement that he pursued indictments that could later be proven in a court of law. “Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to anyone,” Cameron said in the statement. Cameron's office did not respond to request for comment on the PAC's decision.
Palmer wrote in the letter that Cameron’s actions “assured that the grand jury was deprived of the right to indict officers on crimes associated with gunshots into my daughter’s home, into her body and into the homes of the Black neighbors living above her and behind her.”
She added, “The attorney general's unwillingness and refusal to prosecute Breonna's case, despite grand jurors confirming that they found probable cause to indict the officers on multiple offenses, calls into question whether we face a stacked deck when the perpetrators are members of law enforcement.