AG wants Kentucky lawmakers to toss impeachment petition

Published 2:18 pm Saturday, January 30, 2021

Urging state lawmakers to dismiss an impeachment petition against him, Kentucky’s attorney general is fighting back against allegations by three grand jurors from the Breonna Taylor death investigation who joined in seeking his ouster from office.

The petition, signed by a handful of Kentuckians, alleges Attorney General Daniel Cameron breached public trust and failed to comply with his duties in his handling of the Taylor case and then misrepresented the grand jury’s work to the public. An attorney for the three grand jurors signed on their behalf to preserve their anonymity.

The response from the Republican attorney general says the impeachment petition is “so lacking in legal and factual support” that it should be dismissed. Cameron’s response, signed by Deputy Attorney General Barry Dunn, was filed with the clerk of the Kentucky House late Friday.

The response also says the petition is technically flawed because state law requires people seeking impeachment to sign the petition themselves. An attorney for the petitioners on Saturday called it a “shocking” attack on the confidentiality of the grand jurors.

Cameron was the special prosecutor who investigated the actions of the Louisville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Taylor during a warrant search in March 2020. One officer was charged for allegedly firing into an adjacent apartment, but the three grand jurors said prosecutors never gave them the option to consider charges against the officers who fatally shot Taylor.

Cameron’s response to the impeachment petition said his team followed the law, presented a thorough case and the Taylor grand jury ultimately voted to follow their recommendation.

“Members of the public — including the three grand jurors — may well feel frustration, sorrow, anger and a range of other emotions about the events that unfolded on March 13, 2020,” his response said. “They are free to believe that the criminal law should offer more. But the attorney general enforces the laws passed by the General Assembly.”

The investigation culminated in a grand jury ruling that did not charge any of the officers in the Black woman’s death. The shooting sparked protests over racial injustice.

The three grand jurors said they did not agree and wanted to explore criminal charges, but said they were denied because Cameron’s prosecutors believed none of those charges would stick.

Responding to claims that evidence was withheld, Cameron’s response said: “What evidence? The presentation in this case was one of the longest grand jury presentations in Kentucky history.”

Cameron’s response also took direct aim at the three grand jurors, saying they can’t “hide behind” their attorney or anyone else when seeking impeachment. It said the petition should be dismissed since it was “submitted anonymously.”

Anna Whites, another attorney representing petitioners, called it an attack on the grand jurors’ confidentiality, adding: “Abusing grand jury secrecy to escape accountability is a grave misuse of power.” She said a reply to Cameron’s response will be filed Tuesday, when Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature reconvenes.

Under Kentucky’s constitution, the House possesses the sole power of impeachment. An impeachment trial is held in the Senate, where the votes of two-thirds of senators present are required for conviction.

The anti-Cameron petition is part of a flurry of impeachment efforts in Kentucky.

A handful of people petitioned to impeach Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for his executive actions in response to the coronavirus. Another petition seeks the ouster of Republican state Rep. Robert Goforth for an incident in which he allegedly tried to strangle a woman. Goforth has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending.