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Breonna Taylor’s family demand release of grand jury evidence

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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.

Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother, right, listens during a news conference Friday in Louisville, Ky. (Darron Cummings/The Associated Press)

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 have been peaceful, though at one point, police in riot gear fired flash bang devices to turn back those streaming through a street. Two were arrested.

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.

Taylor's aunt Bianca Austin wears her niece's emergency medical technician jacket as she read a statement in Louisville on Friday.(Laurence Bryant/Reuters)

In her statement, Palmer said the criminal justice system had failed her, and state Attorney General Daniel Cameron was just 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-defence, wounding one officer. Cameron, the state'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 neighbouring 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, who wore her niece's emergency medical technician jacket as she read Palmer's statement.

Family attorney Sam Aguiar said that since Cameron is done investigating, all the videos should be released, noting that he has seen dozens, 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, has also called on the Republican attorney general to release what evidence he can. Cameron said through a spokesperson 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.

Black Lives Matter protesters march in Louisville on Friday.(Darron Cummings/The Associated Press)

'They think we don't matter'

Taylor's case has become a rallying cry for protesters nationwide who are calling out racism and demanding police reforms.

Protesters marched through Louisville with a purple banner bearing Taylor's name Friday. They danced and chanted, "Bow for Breonna." Some handed out pizza or water, while others tried to register voters.

Juanita Baker, an attorney for Taylor's family, said she hopes the size and diversity of the crowd sends a message to political leaders.

"Solidarity is needed, there is power in numbers," she said. "These are the people voting you in or out of office, or who will one day run against you. You better take note."

One protester, Victoria Gunther, was so outraged she travelled more than 965 kilometres from Reading, Penn., to take to the streets in 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."

People participate in a march lead by the University of Louisville's Men's basketball team in Louisville on Friday.(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

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, police said in a statement. After that, and past the nighttime curfew, people gathered at the square and then a church, where officers weren't seen.

The previous night, at least 24 people were arrested during protests that authorities said resulted in some vandalism. State Rep. Attica Scott, a Louisville Democrat, was among them, saying she was arrested just before a curfew.

"It's clear that this alphabet soup of law enforcement that's here in Louisville, both local, state and federal law enforcement, are preparing for battle, for war against the people they are supposed to protect and serve," she said Friday after a night in jail.

The curfew in Louisville will last through the weekend, and the governor has called up the National Guard for "limited missions."

Demonstrators argue with Louisville police officers on Friday.(Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Corrections

  • An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that George Floyd died in a police shooting in Minneapolis. In fact, Floyd was killed as a result of neck compression during a police arrest.
    Sep 25, 2020 1:21 PM ET

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