Political leaders sound off after one of three officers charged in Breonna Taylor case

  • In US
  • 2020-09-23 21:39:00Z
  • By NBC News

Notable reactions from across the political spectrum poured in after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said charges will be filed against one of three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician whom police shot during a raid this year.

Former detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were not indicted.

Several Democratic leaders quickly expressed disappointment that only one of the officers was charged.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said, "I haven't read it fully yet, but there's no question that Breonna Taylor and her family deserve justice yesterday, today and tomorrow."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a former Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted: "Breonna Taylor's life mattered. This result is a disgrace and an abdication of justice. Our criminal justice system is racist. The time for fundamental change is now."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has stayed relatively quiet about Taylor's death, expressed sorrow but said he trusted in the decision.

"Breonna Taylor's life was tragically cut short. Our city and the country continue to grieve her loss. Elaine and I pray for healing for Breonna's mother and her family throughout this process. I have called for a fair and thorough investigation into Breonna's killing," he said. (McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, is the secretary of transportation.)

"Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron led a complete inquiry to find the truth and pursue justice. I have total confidence he followed the facts and the legal process and his decision," McConnell said.

Kentucky's other senator, Rand Paul, a Republican, echoed the sentiment. "I think that the rule of law is an important thing, and I hope that people will accept that," he said.

When asked about the decision Wednesday, President Donald Trump answered, "I don't know enough about it."

He had called Taylor's death, as well as the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a "tragic event" during a town hall gathering with ABC News this month.

"Well, I think they were tragic events, and I do feel that we have to also take into consideration that if you look at our police, they do a phenomenal job," he said at the time.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., tweeted: "It shouldn't have taken this long to bring charges against the officer responsible for the murder of #BreonnaTaylor, but this indictment is still a long way from justice. All officers involved must be held fully accountable for her death."

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said in a tweet, "Black lives will not matter until we hold police accountable for Black deaths, invest more in our communities than in criminalization, and dismantle the structures of racial oppression in our country and ensure all people are truly equal in the eyes of the law."

He added: "Police murdered Breonna Taylor while she was asleep in her own home. Today, our justice system decided that these officers will not be held accountable. This is a grave and shameful injustice."

Shortly after the indictment, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called on Cameron to release all "information, evidence, and facts" without affecting the three felony counts. "I believe that the public deserves this information," he said. "I trust Kentuckians. They deserve to see the facts."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters: "It's just weighing really heavy on my heart, and because we know that her death is not just the result of one person but the system, structure and department that failed their entire community. And you know, we know this fight to prevent deaths like hers is going to be so much broader in terms of the systemic change, the political change."

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Mich., who has made many calls for justice in Taylor's death, also vowed to keep fighting.

"Once again, the law says that property is more valuable than Black life. We cannot let up in our fight for justice for Breonna Taylor and every Black and brown person murdered at the hands of police. We will fight to end qualified immunity," Omar tweeted.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., posted: "Did I hear that correctly? Only one officer is being held remotely accountable, and it's not for killing Breonna Taylor but instead for shooting apartments? It's never been clearer this country considers property more valuable than human life."

Taylor's death sparked widespread outrage and protests, with thousands of people demanding justice and accountability from the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Taylor, 26, was killed shortly after midnight on March 13 when officers raided her apartment under a "no knock" warrant as part of a drug investigation involving Taylor's ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer.

Glover listed Taylor's apartment as his address and used it to receive packages, authorities said. Taylor had no criminal record, and no drugs or money were recovered during the raid, according to the search warrant inventory document obtained by NBC News.

Officers said they were fired upon as they entered the home. Taylor's family has said that Walker believed the home was being broken into and that he fired his legally owned gun to defend himself.

The city reached a $12 million settlement last week in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Taylor's family. The settlement does not require the city to admit any wrongdoing

"It is just an acknowledgment of the need for reform and the need for a settlement to take place," Mayor Greg Fischer said in announcing the terms of the settlement.

Fischer signed an executive order Tuesday that placed the city under a state of emergency as Louisville braced for the grand jury's decision.


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The death of Breonna Taylor has made headlines for months and this week two Kentucky jurors from the case have spoken out against the decision to not charge the three police officers with her death, characterizing the officers' actions the night of the raid as "criminal" and "negligent." The jurors broke their silence for the first time since the September 23rd ruling by appearing anonymously in an interview with CBS This Morning. This comes in the midst of an ongoing public outcry for the grand jury records to be released to the public after jurors disputed Attorney General Daniel Cameron's assessment of the case.

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