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Grand Jury Decision In Breonna Taylor Police Shooting Prompts Confusion, Protests

NOEL KING, HOST:

For the second time this week, protesters in Louisville who are demanding justice for Breonna Taylor defied a 9 p.m. curfew. Police moved in last night. Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott was arrested along with other protesters. WFPL reporter Ryan Van Velzer recorded the arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We love you.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Her name is state Rep. Attica Scott.

KING: A police union spokesperson says Scott is charged with unlawful assembly and first-degree rioting. That's a Class D felony. Now, that is the same level felony as wanton endangerment, the only charge brought against one of the three officers involved in Taylor's death. This, for the record, is why so many people are so angry. Marcus Reed (ph) runs a barbecue joint near where Breonna Taylor was killed.

MARCUS REED: And if it was me, I'd probably get 20 years. But, you know, since it's police and he's not my skin color, just a slap on the wrist.

KING: Amina Elahi of member station WFPL in Louisville is with me now. Good morning, Amina.

AMINA ELAHI, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: Let's talk about the questions that everybody in Louisville seems to be asking. So the first one is, the attorney general is pursuing these charges - wanton endangerment - against a detective that shot into Breonna Taylor's neighbors' homes, but no one has been charged with endangering her. Why not?

ELAHI: That is the same question that family attorney Lonita Baker has, and you can understand why. Taylor was unarmed and she was killed. So Baker wants to know why she wasn't endangered by former detective Brett Hankison or other officers' actions. So the attorney general said the charges were based on the bullets he blindly shot through a covered window - passing through the wall of Taylor's apartment into her neighbors'. And he also said the other two officers weren't charged because they were found to be justified in shooting back in response to an alleged warning shot from Taylor's boyfriend.

KING: OK. They were justified in shooting back because they had been shot at first. Another question everyone really seems to want the answer to is, if no one was charged for Taylor's killing, why did the city of Louisville agree to pay her family $12 million in a settlement?

ELAHI: Well, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said it was important for the city to begin the healing process. And he said he thought it was the right decision at that time. But let's note that the city did not admit wrongdoing as part of that settlement.

KING: Which is often what happens in these cases. A grand jury reviewed evidence from the attorney general's investigation this week. What was the evidence they were looking at?

ELAHI: Well, we don't know (laughter). And we don't know if the attorney general will ever release that to the public, although Kentucky's governor and Louisville's mayor have called on him to do so. But Attorney General Daniel Cameron also didn't say whether he presented the grand jury with evidence or charges specific to the other two officers who shot Taylor, who notably were not charged. What the attorney general said was that it was his job to present the facts to the grand jury. Unfortunately, we still don't know what those facts were.

KING: OK. Worth noting, I talked to Louisville state Rep. Charles Booker yesterday and he asked for the same thing - more transparency. Let's listen to that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

CHARLES BOOKER: Throughout this process, transparency was never there. The community was left in the dark. Leadership - even elected leaders like myself - we were left in the dark.

KING: And that seems to be why there is so much outrage. People feel like things are being covered up. So what happened to the two other officers who were - who fired into Breonna Taylor's apartment?

ELAHI: They're still on administrative leave. They're still on the payroll. And now they're under another internal investigation to see if they violated any department policies. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said if the investigation finds that they've committed fireable offenses, he'll fire them. But that remains to be seen.

KING: Amina Elahi of member station WFPL in Louisville, thank you.

ELAHI: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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