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Attorney for Breonna Taylor family calls for release of grand jury transcripts

Posted September 26, 2020 6:31 a.m. EDT

An attorney for Breonna Taylor's family Friday again called on Kentucky's attorney general to release the transcript of the grand jury proceedings in her death.

Attorney Benjamin Crump spoke in Louisville with Taylor's family at a news conference. Her family is making its first public comments since Wednesday's announcement that no police officer would be charged directly with her killing.

"Breonna Taylor's entire family is heartbroken ... and confused and bewildered, just like all of us, as to what did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron present to the grand jury," Crump said at Louisville's Jefferson Square Park.

"Did he present any evidence on Breonna Taylor's behalf, or did he make a unilateral decision to put his thumb on the scales of justice to help try to exonerate and justify (the killing) by these police officers?" Crump said.

"Release the transcript!" Crump said repeatedly, leading a crowd in a chant.

Earlier, Crump said Friday he is counting on a different, federal investigation for justice.

"We hope the FBI investigation finally gets justice for Bre and her family," Crump tweeted.

Protests erupted in Louisville and across the country after Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Wednesday that a grand jury did not charge three officers directly with Taylor's death, more than six months after police shot her in her home while executing a search warrant.

The grand jury indicted one officer on first-degree wanton endangerment charges, accusing him of blindly firing shots that penetrated the walls of a neighbor's apartment.

The FBI has said it is investigating Taylor's death.

Crump has called for Cameron to release the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings.

Grand jury proceedings are generally kept secret to encourage witnesses' and jurors' candor, prosecutors and legal experts say. Exceptions have included the release of grand jury proceedings in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri.

Taylor's family is "heartbroken" and "outraged," Crump said Thursday.

"We do believe (the investigations into Taylor's death) was a coverup from go," Crump said. "They always intended to sweep this under the rug as if Breonna Taylor's life didn't matter."

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and former Kentucky Assistant Attorney General John W. Stewart also have called for the grand jury transcripts to be released.

"If these two officers did not get indicted, then the grand jury testimony ought to be public. You can't hide behind the secrecy of the grand jury," Stewart told CNN Thursday.

Fischer said Thursday the city was working with the attorney general's office and the FBI to determine what information could be released without interfering with ongoing investigations.

Louisville's mayor is extending the city's curfew

After another night of protests Thursday, Louisville's mayor said he is extending the city's curfew through the weekend to balance people's "rights to peacefully protest with the duty to protect public safety."

The 9 p.m. curfew would keep protesters, first responders and bystanders safe since most of the violence has happened overnight, Fischer said, while allowing demonstrators "to voice their calls for racial justice and equity during the day."

On Thursday night, after a nearly two-hour peaceful standoff between the Louisville Metro Police Department officers and protesters on church property, police moved out to allow protestors to go home.

As demonstrators stepped off grounds of the First Unitarian Church property, one of the protestors advised the group that if they didn't leave and go to their cars, they would be arrested.

The curfew will not apply to people commuting to work, houses of worship for services, or seeking medical attention for themselves or others. But the city is asking downtown employers to work from home if possible.

At least 24 people were arrested relating to Thursday night's protests, Louisville police said. Some people who had been marching in protest broke windows at a restaurant, damaged some public transit buses, and tossed a flare into a library, breaking windows there, police said.

During a protest Wednesday night, two Louisville police officers were shot and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Both are expected to recover, according to LMPD interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder.

A 26-year-old suspect has been arrested in connection. He faces two counts of first-degree assault of an officer and 14 counts of wanton endangerment of a police officer.

About 130 people were arrested in connection with Wednesday night's protests, police said.

What led to Taylor's death

The incident that ended Taylor's life began with a narcotics investigation on March 13.

Then-Det. Brett Hankison, Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove were executing a search warrant on Taylor's home, though her ex-boyfriend was the focus of the probe. Her ex-boyfriend was later arrested on drug charges. Taylor's family and their attorney have said she was not involved in her ex-boyfriend's alleged drug deals.

Taylor was sleeping next to her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, in the early hours of March 13, when they heard a noise, he told investigators. They both got up and walked to the door.

"She's yelling at the top of her lungs -- and I am too at this point -- 'Who is it?' " Walker recalled to investigators. "No answer. No response. No anything."

Police forced entry into the home, and Walker said he couldn't see but he fired one shot. After entering, Mattingly was shot in the leg, Cameron, the attorney general, said Wednesday.

Hankison was accused by his own department of blindly firing 10 bullets into Taylor's apartment from an outdoor patio. Hankison was fired in June, the Louisville police chief said, and is appealing his termination.

Cameron argued the officers were "justified in their use of force" because Taylor's boyfriend fired first.

An attorney for Taylor's mother said the grand jury's decision "does not make legal sense" and questioned Cameron's statement that the officers' actions were justified.

"One shot that Kenny Walker fired does not justify 32 shots being fired blindly into Breonna's apartment without target acquisition," lawyer Lonita Baker told CNN.

Steve Romines, Walker's attorney, also disputed Cameron's assertion, telling CNN on Thursday morning, "That's what a jury is for."

"We have to present our evidence to a jury and let a jury decide if they were acting in self-defense or not," he said.

Hankison is the officer charged with first-degree wanton endangerment charges.

He intends to plead not guilty, his attorney, Stew Matthews, told CNN. Evidence does not support the charges, he added.

Hankison was booked in the Shelby County Jail, posted a $15,000 bond and was released, Matthews said.

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