The family of Breonna Taylor on Friday demanded that US authorities release grand jury transcripts showing why no police will face direct criminal charges over her death, which has once again galvanized protesters angry about racism and police brutality in America.
Taylor, a 26-year-old black emergency room technician, was shot dead in Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, on March 13 after three plainclothes policemen executing a search warrant in the middle of the night burst into her apartment.
Her boyfriend exchanged fire with the officers, who he said he thought were intruders.
The family’s lawyer Ben Crump led chants of “release the transcripts” at a press conference in Louisville, calling for them to be loud enough for Taylor to “hear it from heaven.”
He demanded that Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron demonstrate whether he presented “any evidence on Breonna Taylor’s behalf,” or if he had “made sure that her family never got their day in court.”
A grand jury on Wednesday charged detective Brett Hankison with three counts of “wanton endangerment” over shots fired into adjoining apartments.
But neither Hankison nor the two officers who fired the shots that killed Taylor were charged in direct connection with her death.
“It’s like they charged the police for missing” but did not charge them for “shooting bullets in to black bodies,” Crump said.
– ‘Heartbroken’ –
The grand jury decision, coming after a summer of historic civil rights protests across the United States, sent a fresh wave of anger rippling from coast to coast.
In Louisville, thousands have demonstrated for two nights running, defying a curfew.
Crump described Taylor’s family as being “heartbroken, devastated and outraged and confused and bewildered” at the decision.
He questioned whether Taylor’s boyfriend, or other witnesses including neighbors who have said they did not hear police identify themselves, were among those who testified — and if not, then “what kind of sham grand jury proceeding was this.”
A grand jury is a panel of citizens empowered to screen accusations and decide if they should lead to criminal charges.
Their proceedings are secret, and involve only the prosecutor. Neither the defendant nor their lawyers are present.
“If you want us to accept the result then … release the transcript so we can have transparency,” Crump said.
US President Donald Trump has fanned fears about violence at the protests in recent months, some of which have devolved into clashes between demonstrators and heavily armed police or largely white armed militias.
On Wednesday night, two officers were shot and wounded at the protests in Louisville, and more than 120 people were arrested.
The demonstrations Thursday, while tense, appeared largely peaceful, with dozens of protesters seeking refuge from authorities in a church, and police arresting about two dozen people.
“Film it all,” those at the press conference chanted.
© 2020 AFP
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