Gov. Beshear Requests AG Cameron Post Breonna Taylor Case Evidence Online, Rep. Booker Speaks
Governor Andy Beshear is requesting Attorney General Daniel Cameron post online all the information and evidence on the Breonna Taylor case that he can without impacting the three felony counts in the indictment against Louisville Metro Police Department ex-officer Brett Hankison.
Beshear said in Cameron’s announcement Wednesday, the attorney general spoke on information that neither Beshear nor the general public has seen.
“I believe that the public deserves this information,” he said. “I trust Kentuckians. They deserve to see the facts for themselves.”
Beshear said he will never personally feel the weight of 400 years of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws, but “I can listen and I can try to hear.”
“As governor you can do a lot of things and some people think you can do just about anything. But as governor, I cannot control decisions made by an attorney general’s office, I cannot control decisions made by a grand jury and I don’t lead local law enforcement offices. But what I can control is how I lead...,” Beshear said.
“And I can be clear that systematic racism exists in this world, in this country and in our Commonwealth,” he said.
Beshear said systematic racism exists in unequal access to healthcare and disproportionate incarceration rates. He cited his faith in speaking out against racial injustice and said his administration has worked to combat some of these inequalities through restoring voting rights and protecting and expanding healthcare. But, he said there is “so much more work to be done.”
Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said as a 71-year-old, he’s lived through the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F, Kennedy and Malcolm X. He said he was born before Brown vs. Board of Education and was alive when the Civil Rights Act passed.
“I served my country in a time when we were supposedly changing hearts and minds…” he said. “But I’ve come to recognize that sometimes the effort to just change hearts and minds is not enough, that we really need to change behavior.”
Brown said the current criminal justice system needs changes in behavior and process.
“I think the first involves some technological issues, where rules of evidence that were developed sometimes hundreds of years ago hasn’t caught up to technology that was developed in the last ten minutes, so much,” Brown said.
Brown said he thinks the public has rightfully developed an expectation that the government and those in the criminal justice system will present to them information that they can understand in a way that they can understand it.
“I’m not going to try to explain about what happened with the Breonna Taylor situation and the Grand Jury, although I would encourage everyone to learn more about how our system really works with the Grand Jury and what these indictments are and what these charges are,” he said.
He said he thinks expectations were built up that “were not necessarily based on a full-knowledge of what the legal standards were.” He said when those expectations were not met, that brought severe disappointment.
Brown said with that disappointment, he hopes people don’t take a “regressive step forward” in changing behaviors. He cited the song “Wake Up, Everybody” by John Legend and the Roots in asking people to “strike the consciences of people and not the fears of people.”
State Representative Charles Booker also spoke at the briefing and said he wanted to recognize Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer and the rest of her family.
“They are dealing with trauma and pain that will never really go away,” Booker said. “They have grieved before an entire nation, the world even, that has seen their heart break.”
He said they are reconciling what can never be fully reconciled because “Breonna Taylor should be alive today.”
Booker also acknowledged the community that has called for justice in the face of being ignored, tear-gassed and demonized.
“Justice is not just what happens to these officers. It never was... it was always about the fact that we have generations of poverty and inequity all across our Commonwealth, that so many people feel the fear of knowing that justice may not account for their humanity,” he said. “Let’s be clear. Justice failed us today.”
Booker said there is no justifying Taylor’s death. He called for changing laws to uphold accountability and public safety in a way that does not rely exclusively on law enforcement.
“We have to do that work if we really want to honor Breonna,” he said. “When I leave here I will go home to the west end of Louisville. I will see a lot of people that I love dearly hurting, even in the streets, and I want to speak to them. The last thing I'll say: this moment to me, to us, is about protecting the movement. All of us, all across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as family have to do the work to make sure that we can all be free and have the liberty of being safe in our homes, to make sure that we all have the opportunity to pursue our dreams.”
Beshear confirmed 796 new cases of coronavirus. He said 111 of those cases account for children aged 18 years old and younger. He reported five new deaths. He asked that everyone, including those protesting and worshipping, wear a mask.
“No one would want to turn a moment of unity, of giving voice, of trying to make progress into one that spreads a virus. So please, make sure you do it safely. I know you will,” he said.
Beshear said Wednesday’s positivity rate is 4.59%.