Breonna Taylor’s supporters criticize prosecutor in her case

Published 4:40 pm Friday, September 25, 2020

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Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Breonna Taylor’s family and their lawyers sharply criticized Kentucky’s attorney general for the failure to bring charges against police officers in her death, calling Friday for him to release the transcripts of the grand jury proceeding while vowing to continue protests until the officers are charged.
Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, said in a statement read by a relative to a gathering in Louisville that she did not expect justice from state Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for the family, urged the prosecutor to make the transcripts public, so people can see if anyone was present at the grand jury proceedings to give a voice to Taylor. Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has also called for Cameron to release what evidence he can.
Cameron’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth Kuhn, said the prosecutor understood that Taylor’s family “is in an incredible amount of pain and anguish” and that the grand jury decision was not the one they wanted. But, the statement added, “prosecutors and grand jury members are bound by the facts and by the law.”
Taylor, a Black woman who was an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by white officers after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them, authorities said. He said he fired in self-defense, wounding one officer. Police were conducting a drug investigation and entered on a warrant connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.
Cameron has said the investigation showed officers acted in self-defense. The grand jury charged one officer, who has already been fired, with firing into a neighboring apartment.
At almost the same time that Taylor’s family was decrying the handling of her case, a man accused of shooting at police during protests Wednesday was being arraigned. Two officers were wounded and expected to recover.
A not guilty plea was entered Friday for Larynzo D. Johnson, 26. Bond was set at $1 million. Zac Meihaus, the attorney representing Johnson at the arraignment, said it is difficult to “pinpoint” if Johnson fired the shots in question. A prosecutor replied that a gun was recovered from Johnson, and there are video and witness accounts of the shootings.
The big question for Louisville, which has been torn apart by Taylor’s death, and the larger issue of racism in America was how to move forward.
The FBI is still investigating whether Taylor’s civil rights were violated, and some have put their hope in that probe, but the burden of proof for such cases is very high.
Many have taken to the streets around the country.
On Thursday, some of them raised their fists and called out “Black lives matter!” Others tended to the letters, flowers and signs grouped together in a square in downtown Louisville. All of them said her name, which has become a rallying cry.
“We’ve got to take it lying down that the law won’t protect us, that they can get away with killing us,” said Lavel White, a regular protester in downtown Louisville who is Black. “If we can’t get justice for Breonna Taylor, can we get justice for anybody?”
Some of the peaceful protests in Louisville have given way to destruction and violence. The governor has called up the National Guard for “limited missions.”
But state Rep. Attica Scott — who said she was arrested Thursday night as she headed toward a church that protesters were congregating in — criticized law enforcement’s response to the demonstrations.
“It’s clear that this alphabet soup of law enforcement here in Louisville, both local, state and federal, are preparing for war against the people they’re supposed to protect,” said Scott, who called the charges she was arrested on “ridiculous.”
She was held overnight and released Friday.
Demonstrators demanding justice for Taylor have also gathered in places like Los Angeles where a vehicle ran through a crowd of protesters, injuring one person. In Portland, Ore. — a city that has seen many protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis — a fire was set at a police union building.
While there was despair after the decision in Taylor’s case, others saw reasons to hope.
Reginique Jones said she’ll keep pressing for increased police accountability and for a statewide ban on “no knock” warrants — the kind issued in the Taylor case, though the state attorney general said the investigation showed police announced themselves before busting into her apartment.
“I believe that we are going to get past this,” Jones said as she returned Thursday to the park in downtown Louisville that has been at the center of the protests. “We can still get some justice.”
The case has exposed the divide in the U.S. over bringing justice for Black Americans killed by authorities and the laws that allow officers to be charged, which regularly favor police.
Since Taylor’s killing, Louisville has taken some steps to address protesters’ concerns. In addition to the officer who was fired and later charged, three others were put on desk duty. Officials have banned no-knock warrants and hired a Black woman as the permanent police chief — a first for the city.
Louisville also agreed to more police reforms as it settled a lawsuit that included $12 million for Taylor’s family. But many have expressed frustration that more has not been done.
And so they took to the streets.
Louisville police in riot gear barricaded roads and cars honked as the crowd marched past a nighttime curfew. Officers blocked the exits of a church where protesters gathered to avoid arrest for violating the curfew.
Several people were detained, including state Rep. Attica Scott, a Louisville Democrat. Scott unveiled legislation recently that would ban the use of no-knock search warrants in Kentucky. The measure, called Breonna’s Law in honor of Taylor, also would require drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in shootings and deadly incidents and require that body cameras be worn during the execution of all search warrants.
Police eventually pulled back late Thursday after negotiating with demonstrators to end the protest.
At least 24 people were arrested as of 1 a.m. Friday, police said.

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