87 people charged with felonies for protesting Breonna Taylor death at attorney general's home

87 people charged with felonies for protesting Breonna Taylor death at attorney general's home
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Nearly 90 protesters were arrested and charged with felonies after refusing to leave a demonstration against the police killing of Breonna Taylor that culminated outside the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R). 

Demonstrators gathered outside Cameron's residence on Tuesday to demand that officials charge the three Louisville officers who were involved in Taylor's fatal shooting in March after police executed a no-knock search warrant at her apartment. More than 100 people, including NFL wide receiver Kenny Stills and Minneapolis NAACP President Leslie Redmond, walked to Cameron's home in Louisville in a protest organized by the social justice group Until Freedom, according to the Louisville Courier Journal

A Louisville Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson told The Hill that officers followed the group as it marched to Cameron's home. Cameron asked that the demonstrators be removed after they gathered in his front yard.

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After the protesters refused, officers arrested 87 people and charged them with a felony and two misdemeanors, the spokesperson added. Stills and Redmond were reportedly among those arrested. 

“Due to their refusal to leave the property and their attempts to influence the decision of the Attorney General with their actions, each person was charged with Intimidating a Participant in a Legal Process,” the spokesperson said. "They also face disorderly conduct and trespassing charges, both misdemeanors."

Intimidating a participant in a legal process is considered a Class D felony in Kentucky; the charge could carry a prison sentence of up to five years. 

Cameron said in a statement to WAVE 3, an NBC affiliate in Louisville, that Tuesday's demonstration was an attempt to "escalate" the situation and that it only served to "further division and tension within our community." He also said that his office has been conducting a thorough investigation into Taylor's death. 

"Justice is not achieved by trespassing on private property, and it’s not achieved through escalation," Cameron said. "It’s achieved by examining the facts in an impartial and unbiased manner. That is exactly what we are doing and will continue to do in this investigation.”

The Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, however, argued that the arrests were an "overblown, outrageous, and inappropriate reaction to a community that is rightfully upset with [government] delay in holding the police accountable."

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"The only purpose these charges serve is to potentially chill the free speech rights of protesters," the chapter said in a tweet.

Taylor, a Black, 26-year-old certified EMT, was killed in her Louisville apartment on March 13 after three plainclothes police officers forcefully entered with a no-knock warrant while she was asleep. Police have held that they knocked and voiced their presence before entering, but Taylor family's attorney and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was in the apartment at the time, have disputed this. 

Walker says that he fired his weapon at officers after they entered without stating who they were. The three are accused of returning more than 20 shots, eight of which struck Taylor.

Protests have persisted in Louisville for months since Taylor's death. The demonstrations intensified following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, with activists demanding criminal charges be filed against the Louisville officers.

Louisville Police Officer Brett Hankison was terminated by the Louisville Metro Police in late June following a review into the incident. Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in a letter shared publicly that Hankison violated procedures on use of deadly force by blindly firing 10 shots in Taylor's apartment without supporting evidence that the actions were necessary. 

The other officers involved in the incident — Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly — have remained on administrative leave.

Cameron took over an investigation into the incident in mid-May after a local prosecutor recused himself due to a conflict of interest, the Courier Journal reported. The state attorney general has not given a timeline on when he expects the investigation to conclude. 

Updated at 10:47 a.m.