Breonna Taylor's family demands to see Kentucky grand jury evidence
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[September 26, 2020]
By Carlos Barria and Bryan Woolston
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - A lawyer for
Breonna Taylor's family on Friday demanded Kentucky's state attorney
general release the evidence presented to a grand jury that decided
against charging police officers with homicide in her death during a
Protests erupted in Louisville and several other U.S. cities following
the announcement on Wednesday that the grand jury would not bring murder
charges against three police officers involved in the March 13 shooting
of Taylor in her home during the execution of a search warrant.
Two Louisville police officers were shot and wounded during
demonstrations on Wednesday night. Both survived.
"Release the transcripts!" Ben Crump said, leading Taylor's relatives
and others in a chant outside the grand jury building and questioning
whether Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron had offered enough
"There seems to be two justice systems in America. One for Black America
and one for white America," Crump said.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has also called on Cameron to make
evidence in the case public.
In the U.S. justice system, prosecutors can present findings to a grand
jury to decide if there is sufficient evidence to bring charges against
a suspect. Since defense lawyers are not present, the system gives
prosecutors wide leeway in guiding the grand jury's decisions.
The grand jury decided against charging any of the officers involved
with wrongdoing in Taylor's death, but charged one officer with wanton
endangerment for stray bullets that struck a neighboring apartment.
At a news conference on Friday, Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert
Schroeder said he expected demonstrations to grow over the weekend, and
expressed concern about reports that militia groups were planning to
come to the city.
"Many of them say they are coming to help us. Let me be clear: That is
not help we need, that is not help we want, and it does not help the
situation," Schroeder said.
About 150 people gathered in downtown Louisville after dark on Friday
evening, waving a large Black Lives Matter flag.
SUMMER OF PROTESTS
Taylor's killing, which initially drew little national attention, gained
prominence after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, under the knee
of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25 ignited a summer of protests.
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse,
was shot six times by police after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired
a single round at the officers, wounding one of them. Three officers
responded by firing 32 rounds.
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Protesters march through downtown Louisville after a grand jury
decided not to bring homicide charges against police officers
involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville,
Kentucky September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant
"I am angry. ... The system as a whole has failed her," Taylor's
mother, Tamika Palmer, said in a statement read aloud by her sister.
"You robbed the world of a queen."
Crump, who represented Taylor's family in a wrongful death lawsuit
against the city of Louisville, questioned whether Cameron was
attempting to protect the police when he presented the case to the
Cameron has declined to release the grand jury evidence, in part
because a separate federal investigation was ongoing.
Cameron's office did not immediately respond to a request for
comment on Friday. On Thursday, Cameron's spokeswoman, Elizabeth
Kuhn, said: "Releasing that information now would compromise the
federal investigation and violate a prosecutor's ethical duties."
Police said on Friday they had arrested 24 protesters, including
state Representative Attica Scott, the only Black woman in the
Kentucky legislature. Scott is a sponsor of "Breonna's Law,"
proposed legislation which would end "no-knock" warrants and require
police to wear body cameras while warrants are served.
Police also arrested Scott's daughter, Ashanti Scott, and Shameka
Parrish-Wright, a prominent activist. The three were charged with
felony first-degree rioting and the misdemeanors of failure to
disperse and unlawful assembly.
They were released Friday morning after spending the night in jail,
said Ted Shouse, an attorney for Parrish-Wright. Shouse said they
were arrested together when somebody broke the window of a library
and threw a flare into the building, but neither Parrish-Wright nor
the Scotts were involved.
Attica Scott said the charges against her and her daughter were
Police officer Larynzo Johnson, 26, pleaded not guilty on Friday to
two counts of assault and multiple counts of wanton endangerment,
said Josh Abner, a spokesman for the Jefferson County attorney's
office. He was ordered held on $1 million bail.
(Reporting by Carlos Barria and Bryan Woolston; Additional reporting
by Daniel Trotta, Nathan Layne, Makini Brice and Peter Szekely and
Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by
Alistair Bell, Cynthia Osterman and Sonya Hepinstall)
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