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Beshear requests more facts from Breonna Taylor investigation be made public

Kentucky

FILE PHOTO: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear gives an update on COVID-19, July 20, 2020.

FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says he is requesting Kentucky Attorney General Danial Cameron to post all possible information, evidence and facts related to the investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor that can be made public without impacting the three felony counts in the indictment delivered today, Wednesday Sept. 23.

“Everyone can and should be informed and those that are currently feeling, frustration, feeling hurt, they deserve to know more,” Beshear said. “I trust Kentuckians. They deserve to see the facts for themselves. I believe the ability to process those facts helps everybody.”

This afternoon, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Detective Brett Hankison was indicted for wanton endangerment. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Hankinson was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department in June.

The attorney general said the other two officers, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not indicted because the investigation showed under Kentucky law they “were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker [Taylor’s boyfriend].”

Taylor, a Black woman, was killed in March when Louisville police officers executed a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night. Taylor’s boyfriend fired at officers, who returned fire – killing the 26-year-old EMT. 

Louisville police obtained the warrant to enter Taylor’s apartment from a judge as part of an investigation into a drug ring at another house in the city. Louisville police told the judge they believed that one of the men suspected of selling drugs had used Taylor’s apartment to receive packages.

Taylor had previously dated a suspected drug seller but had severed ties with him, according to her family. Reports say no drugs were found in the home.

Kentucky Governor’s Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said he believes the criminal justice system needs certain changes in process, specifically in technological citing rules of evidence that have not “caught up” to more recent technology and making unchanging facts that will not cause prejudice in the case to the public, as the governor has requested the facts leading to the indictment in the investigation be made publicly available.

“I think what happened was a situation where expectations were built up that were not necessarily based on a full knowledge of what the legal standards were, and therefore, when those expectations were not met, there is severe disappointment,” Brown said. “but in that disappointment…I would hope that we don’t take a regressive step forward in changing behaviors, and Breonna Taylor’s legacy is that it can change behaviors.”

“Sometimes the effort to change hearts and minds is not enough. We really need to change behavior.”

Kentucky Governor’s Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown

During the press conference, Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker (House District 43) spoke of the community joining together in a call for justice after Taylor’s death. Booker says the indictment announcement shows the need to make changes to laws and accountability in public safety.

“Justice isn’t just about what happens to these officers. It never was about what happens to these officers. It was always about the fact that we have generations of poverty and inequity all across our Commonwealth that so many people feel the fear of knowing that justice may not account for their humanity,” Booker said. “A woman, a Black woman, was killed in her home by the agency paid for to protect and serve her. That’s wrong, and there is no justifying that.”

“For months now, the too-short life and legacy of Breonna Taylor have shown us how much work remains to have justice that is swift and laws that help more than harm. As we absorb the full impact of today’s decision, we understand the shock, anger, and sorrow many feel. We believe as legislators the best way to honor Breonna and other victims is to propose and pass meaningful policies that address systemic racism and keep all of Kentucky’s communities safe. The fight for justice does not and cannot stop here.”

House and Senate Democratic Leaders Joni Jenkins and Morgan McGarvey

The governor says the investigation has brought the use of “no-knock warrants” to light raising questions regarding what it should take to get a no-knock warrant, who should be able to execute one and what type of training it takes to serve one and what type of surveillance should be done first. Louisville banned the use of “no-knock warrants” in June following days of protests and calls for reform.

In his press conference today, Cameron said the officers did knock and announce their presence and that the account was corroborated by a neighbor who saw the police arrive. He says they “breached the door” after getting no answer.

Taylor and Walker were in bed when police broke down her door with a battering ram shortly after midnight.

“These are all things we need to look at moving forward from both a process standpoint and as a legal standpoint,” Beshear said. “If I had a wish, and I talked about it during the investigation, is for more explaination.”

Earlier this month, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the city will pay $12 million dollars to the Taylor family. At that time, the mayor also announced significant police reforms including giving officers incentives to live in the communities in which they police; increased random drug testing; mandating that Commanders must approve all warrants before seeking judicial approval.

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