Governor reacts to Breonna Taylor grand jury: ‘Systematic racism exists’ in US, Kentucky
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Wednesday addressed the decision announced earlier in the day to indict only one police officer involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor — and on charges unrelated to her death.
“I will never feel the weight of 400 years of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow … but I can listen, I can try to hear, and I can be clear: Systematic racism exists in this world, in this country and in our commonwealth,” Beshear said.
The governor listed issues including racial disparities in health care and disproportionate incarceration.
“It impacts everything from wealth, earnings, education, even how long we live on this earth,” he said.
Beshear also emphasized Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s (R) independence from the governor’s office following Cameron’s announcement of the charges, which saw swift condemnation from Democrats and criminal justice advocates.
“As governor you can do a lot of things, and some people think you can do just about anything, but as governor I cannot control an attorney general’s office, I cannot control decisions made by a grand jury, and I don’t lead local law enforcement offices,” Beshear said. “What I can control is how I lead, what I say, what I am committed to doing.”
The governor commended Cameron for keeping his office in the loop ahead of the decision and allowing it to prepare. However, he also noted that Cameron’s announcement had referenced information and evidence that had not been made available to Beshear’s office or the general public.
“I believe that the general public deserves this information,” he said. “I previously made what I would call a suggestion to the attorney general, and now I’m posting a request” for the information to be made available online.
Taylor was killed in March by three Louisville police officers executing a no-knock warrant at her apartment.
Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired his gun at them when they entered, and the officers fatally shot Taylor when they returned fire. Walker and other witnesses have said the officers did not identify themselves as police before entering.
One of the three, Brett Hankison, was indicted Wednesday on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into other apartments.