Will officers be charged in Breonna Taylor shooting?
A decision by AG could determine whether justice or chaos wins out
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In unclouded, impassioned words, Breonna Taylor’s mother has made it clear what she expects Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to do about the three Louisville officers involved her in daughter’s death.
Charge them all.
Tamika Palmer said as much in an unflinchingly direct and heartfelt post on her Instagram page Thursday, calling out Cameron by name, appealing to him as a mother would to a son.
“Do you have the power and courage to call my child yours,” she asked him, “the power to see that my cry and my community’s cry is heard, and the power as part of a village who raises our children to do right by one of our daughters?!”
For the past 184 days – since she learned the morning of March 13 that her 26- year- old daughter was ly
“The attorney general committed to getting us the truth. We’re going to hold him up to that commitment.” Tamika Palmer
Breonna Taylor’s mother
ing dead in her apartment – Palmer has anxiously awaited a decision in the case.
She’s not the only one.
Much of Louisville and followers of the story around the country are seemingly holding their collective breath to see what decision Cameron will announce in the monthslong investigation into her death.
And, equally important, one critical question is being asked by elected officials, public safety leaders, many residents and business owners: What will happen to the city of Louisville once Cameron’s announcement goes public?
“No matter what the announcement is, it’s not going to be satisfactory to everybody,” said Sam Aguiar, a Louisville attorney representing Palmer.
The protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received the Louisville Metro Police’s substantially complete Public Integrity Unit investigation into the shooting May 20.
Since then, he’s stayed largely mum publicly about his office’s investigation, stating this week that it remains ongoing and “if done properly, cannot follow a specific timeline.”
“When the investigation concludes and a decision is made,” he said Sept. 9, “we will provide an update about an announcement. The news will come from our office and not unnamed sources. Until that time, the investigation remains ongoing.”
Taylor’s family: ‘ It’s crunch time’
The days have been particularly trying for Palmer, an intensely private woman who has found herself uncomfortably thrust into the spotlight after losing a daughter.
Her attorneys declined an interview with her for this story, seeking to give her a reprieve.
But on Thursday, Palmer took to Instagram to deliver a powerful message to Cameron: “It’s crunch time and we’re putting our faith and trust in you.
“Your mother put everything she had into raising you,” Palmer wrote, tagging the account of the 34- year- old rookie attorney general, elected in November.
“If you ask her, she will say without hesitation that she would stop at nothing to protect you. She would be willing to give her life to save yours. If you were gunned down in your own home, wouldn’t she demand the killers be brought to justice? Would she stand up and demand justice if it was being delayed? Would she want the support of the community and others to help her when her cry for justice for her child’s death was being ignored?
“If she had the power to make sure this type of injustice would never happen without accountability and consequences, would she make sure of it? Will you make sure of it?”
In the early days of the protests, when seven people were shot and downtown stores saw their windows shattered and their inventories looted, Taylor’s family was quick to call for calm.
“I didn’t agree with it and I didn’t feel like it was the Bre way,” Palmer said in June. “It doesn’t represent who she was.”
Palmer, other family members and her attorneys met with Cameron on Aug. 12, where the attorney general expressed his condolences and stressed the importance of getting all the facts in the case.
“The attorney general committed to getting us the truth,” Palmer said afterward. “We’re going to hold him up to that commitment.”
Protesters: ‘ Will they get what they’re crying for?’
While the goals of the Taylor movement have grown over the summer, at the crux is the same cry that protesters have been asking for since demonstrations began, more than 100 days ago: “Arrest the cops.”
That message echoed in the early days of the protests, was sung on the steps of the state Capitol during a rally in Frankfort, presented itself in living rooms in the form of a television ad, and is still evident on artwork at Jefferson Square Park and on the lips of protesters in the small groups that continue to march from there each night.
Demanding that the three involved officers be charged with responsibility for Taylor’s death has been the most tangible and consistent desire of the protesters.
If the three officers are not charged with significant crimes, demonstrators may respond with anger to a justice system they feel has let them down yet again.
Kris Smith was one of the first protesters downtown the night it began on May 28. He’s worried that this time, if there is any looting after a decision is announced, it could result in deadly encounters between looters and protective, armed business owners.
“The first looting caught everybody off guard,” he said. “But once Daniel Cameron says he’s going to come out with his decision, the store owners are going to be ready.”
He doesn’t, however, predict looting and rioting will occur.
Louisville police: We will ‘ be prepared’
Louisville Metro Police say they are preparing for large- scale protests.
“While the uncertainty most definitely is causing concern for many, LMPD wants to assure our community that we have a plan and will be prepared to respond as needed,” spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the police have weathered their share of difficulties. Departures are spiking because of retirements, and the city has already recorded 114 fatal shootings, meaning it will soon eclipse the city’s 2016 record of 117.
Moreover, the department is poised to get its third chief since June after Steve Conrad was fired and interim Chief Robert Schroder announced he is retiring Oct. 1. Yvette Gentry will take over as interim chief then until a permanent replacement is hired.
Many in Louisville, Ky., hope the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death will be charged. Attorney Sam Aguiar said, “No matter what the announcement is, it’s not going to be satisfactory to everybody.”
Taylor smiles with her mother, Tamika Palmer.
A protester asks a Louisville Metro Police Department officer to look him in the eyes during a protest for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. About 60 people were arrested during that day’s protests.
Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, cries on the steps of Metro Hall in Louisville, Ky., during a remembrance event for her daughter. Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police officers who were executing a no- knock search warrant at her apartment in March.