Family Demands Release of Evidence in Breonna Taylor’s Case
By CLAIRE GALOFARO, PIPER HUDSPETH BLACKBURN and ANGIE WANG
Black Lives Matter protesters march, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Louisville. Breonna Taylor's family demanded Friday that Kentucky authorities release all body camera footage, police files and the transcripts of the grand jury hearings that led to no charges against police officers who killed the Black woman during a March drug raid at her apartment. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Breonna Taylor’s family demanded Friday that Kentucky authorities release all body camera footage, police files and the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that led to no charges being brought against police officers who killed the Black woman during a raid at her apartment.
The decision disappointed and angered those who have been calling for justice for Taylor for six months, and protesters vowed to stay in the streets until all the officers involved are fired or someone is charged with her killing.
A diverse group, including Taylor’s mother, marched through Louisville on Friday evening. The protests were peaceful, though at one point, police in riot gear fired flash bang devices to turn back a crowd on a street. Two were arrested, authorities said.
About a dozen people who were out past the city’s 9 p.m. curfew were arrested later.
Earlier, Taylor’s lawyers and family expressed dismay that no one has been held accountable for her death.
“I am an angry Black woman. I am not angry for the reasons that you would like me to be. But angry because our Black women keep dying at the hands of police officers — and Black men,” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, wrote in a statement read by a relative. She stood close by wearing a shirt that said, “I (heart) Louisville Police” with bullet holes in the heart emoji.
Palmer’s statement said the criminal justice system had failed her, and state Attorney General Daniel Cameron was the final person in the chain, following the officer who sought a no-knock warrant as part of a drug investigation, the judge who signed it and police who burst into Taylor’s apartment. The warrant was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.
Taylor was shot multiple times by white officers after her boyfriend fired at them, authorities said. He said he didn’t know who was coming in and fired in self-defense, wounding one officer. Cameron, Kentucky’s first Black attorney general, said the officers were not charged with Taylor’s killing because they acted to protect themselves.
The grand jury indicted one officer on endangerment charges, saying he fired gunshots into a neighboring home that didn’t strike anyone. He has been fired.
“I hope you never know the pain of your child being murdered 191 days in a row,” said Bianca Austin, wearing her niece’s emergency medical technician jacket as she read Palmer’s statement.
Family attorney Sam Aguiar said all the videos should be released because Cameron’s investigation is over, noting that he’s seen dozens of them, most of which are not public.
Cameron “got so much wrong. We’ve seen so much piecemeal stuff come out throughout the case,” he said without giving specifics.
Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, also has called on the Republican attorney general to release what evidence he can.
Cameron said through a spokeswoman that he understood the family’s pain.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but prosecutors and Grand Jury members are bound by the facts and by the law,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said in a statement.
As Taylor’s family decried how the case was handled, a man accused of shooting and wounding two officers during protests Wednesday appeared in court. They’re expected to recover.
A not-guilty plea was entered for Larynzo D. Johnson, 26, and bond was set at $1 million. Attorney Zac Meihaus called the streets “a war zone” when the shooting happened and said it’s 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 shooting.
Taylor’s case has become a rallying cry as protesters nationwide call out racism and demand police reforms.
Protesters marched through Louisville on Friday with a purple banner bearing Taylor’s name. They danced and chanted, “Bow for Breonna.” Some handed out pizza or water, while others tried to register voters.
One protester, Victoria Gunther, was so outraged she traveled more than 600 miles (965 kilometers) from Reading, Pennsylvania, to Louisville.
“I’m a Black woman — that could have been me, that would have been my family,” she said. “We are disrespected and disregarded. They think we don’t matter. That’s why I’m here, to say we do matter.”
The police presence was light until protesters neared the city’s East Market section, a few blocks from the banks of the Ohio River. About a dozen police cruisers were parked under a highway overpass, and officers with clubs and face shields formed a semi-circle blocking protesters’ path.
Police told people to move to the sidewalk. Officers deployed two flash bang rounds into the air, and the crowd moved away, authorities said in a statement. Past a nighttime curfew, people gathered in a park that protesters are now calling “Injustice Square” and then at a church, where there was no major police presence — a change from the previous night.
As he marched, David Ward wore his cap that says “Desert Storm Veteran” because he wanted to send a message: he fought for America, but when he takes his hat off, he’s a Black man treated like any other in a country built on racism.
“When I put that hat on, I’m a good person, when I don’t, I’m a bad person in their eyes,” Ward said, and to him that means Black people must constantly prove their worth.
At least 24 people were arrested Thursday night — including Democratic state Rep. Attica Scott — during protests that authorities said resulted in vandalism.
The curfew in Louisville will last through the weekend, and the governor has called up the National Guard for “limited missions.”
Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina and Bruce Schreiner, Rebecca Reynolds Yonker, Dylan Lovan and John Minchillo in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed.
Hudsbeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.