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article imageRelease US grand jury transcripts in Breonna Taylor case: lawyer

By Camille CAMDESSUS, with Sarah Titterton in Washington (AFP)     Sep 25, 2020 in World

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 burst into her apartment in the middle of the night.

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."

Critics -- including these protesters in Los Angeles on September 24  2020 -- have decried the grand...
Critics -- including these protesters in Los Angeles on September 24, 2020 -- have decried the grand jury's decision to charge a police officer for endangering neighbors, but not for killing Breonna Taylor
Frederic J. BROWN, AFP

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 into black bodies," Crump said.

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.

- 'Heartbroken' -

Protestors march as they protest the lack of criminal charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylo...
Protestors march as they protest the lack of criminal charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky on September 24, 2020
Jeff Dean, AFP

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. Crowds gathered Friday for a third night of protests.

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."

Factfile on the fatal shooting by US police of Breonna Taylor in March 2020
Factfile on the fatal shooting by US police of Breonna Taylor in March 2020

"If you want us to accept the result then ... release the transcript so we can have transparency," Crump said.

At Jefferson Square, where demonstrators began to gather Friday evening, several groups offered to register people to vote.

"We're giving them easy access by bringing it to them like pizza," said Felicia Garr, 52.

Garr said she understands the frustration of discouraged black citizens. But, "If you say you're here for Breonna Taylor and not voting, you are not getting the message."

One new voter was Jamie Bethel, 20, who said she was registering because she's "sick of the cops thinking they can get away with anything."

President Donald Trump "is not doing anything about it," Bethel said.

Trump, who has taken the mantle of the "law and order" president, has fanned fears about violence at the protests in recent months.

Some demos 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.

Lawyers for Taylor's family called on media to stop "skewing" the protests, accusing journalists of focusing disproportionately on the violence.

"Film it all," those at the press conference chanted.

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