Breonna Taylor’s family broke their silence on Friday, Sept. 25, two days after a grand jury failed to indict the officers involved in her death for murder. They said the system failed Taylor in multiple ways and demanded the grand jury transcript be released to the public.
Visibly distraught, the family held a press conference at Louisville’s Jefferson Square Park with their attorneys to express their frustration, anger and disappointment. They also heavily criticized Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
“Breonna Taylor’s entire family is heartbroken, devastated and outraged; and confused and bewildered, just like all of us as to what did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron present to the grand jury,” attorney Benjamin Crump said. “Did he present any evidence on Breonna Taylor’s behalf, or did he make a unilateral decision to put his thumb on the scales of justice to help try to exonerate and justify the killing of Breonna Taylor by these police officers?”
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, wrote a passionate statement that was read by Palmer’s sister Bianca Taylor. Though Palmer was present, Bianca Taylor said her niece’s death was “emotionally draining” on Palmer, so she was speaking on her behalf.
“I never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with. I knew he was too inexperienced to deal with a job of this caliber. I knew he had already chosen to be on the wrong side of the law the moment he wanted the grand jury to make the decision,” Palmer’s statement said.
Palmer added Cameron’s inaction helped her “realize is that it will always be us against them.” She said the grand jury’s decision “reassured” her about why she had “no faith in the legal system” in her full statement.
“The police and the law were not made to protect us black and brown women,” Palmer’s statment continued. “In an email [Sgt.] Mattingly called us animals and thugs. It is clear that that is the way they will always see us.”
Crump then made the call for the transcripts to be made public.
“That’s why we are standing here today, united in solidarity, declaring and demanding that he [Cameron] release the transcripts of the grand jury proceeding so we can know if there was anybody giving a voice to Breonna Taylor,” Crump said.
The family began chanting “release the tapes” after Crump’s remarks, and some in the crowd joined in.
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was killed when Sgt. John Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove and former Detective Brett Hankison executed a search warrant of her apartment on March 13 after midnight.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he fired a warning shot because he thought the officers were intruders. Taylor was shot six times, and she died from her wounds.
After months of protests demanding justice for Taylor, Cameron announced Wednesday, Sept. 23, that only Hankison would be indicted for “wanton endangerment” of Taylor’s neighbors after some of the bullets he fired hit their apartment. Taylor and Walker were not named among the victims.
Cameron said they found Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in shooting to defend themselves, and he shared the FBI determination that Cosgrove was the one who fired the fatal shot.
With the streets having erupted in protests once more as advocates decry the decision, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear joined Taylor’s family in asking the grand jury transcript be released.
“Everyone can and should be informed; and those that are currently feeling frustration, feeling hurt, they deserve to know more,” Beshear said.
While Cameron called Taylor’s slaying “tragic” and said he understood how the family felt “as a Black man,” he also said he would not be releasing the transcript because the case is still open.
‘”Because there’s a pending indictment and because there’s an ongoing FBI investigation, [I will] revisit that question — but at this point I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to release any information,” Cameron said.
Taylor’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on May 15, and it was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 15, they settled with the city of Louisville for $12 million.
“While we await a decision from AG Daniel Cameron on whether or not charges will be filed in this case, my administration is not waiting to move ahead with needed reforms to precent a tragedy like this from ever happening again,” Louisville mayor Mayor Greg Fischer said at the time.
While Fischer acknowledged the city would also implement policy changes as a part of the settlement, for Taylor’s family, Cameron’s words of understanding and the millions they are being paid by the city is not enough. None of it will bring Taylor back, they said.
“Cameron alone didn’t fail her, but it ended with a lack of investigation. The officer they told they lied to obtain the search warrant failed her. The judge who signed the search warrant failed her. The terrorists who broke down her door failed her. The system as a whole has failed her,” Palmer said. “You didn’t just rob me and my family, you robbed the world of a queen.”