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Northam highlights 'Breonna's Law' with ceremonial bill signing

Northam highlights 'Breonna's Law' with ceremonial bill signing
© Courtesy WTVR CBS6

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Monday ceremonially signed legislation that bans no-knock warrants by law enforcement, such as the one that was part of the Louisville, Ky., police raid that killed Breonna Taylor earlier this year.

Two of Taylor's aunts and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the Taylor family throughout litigation this summer, stood beside Northam as he signed "Breonna's Law."

Virginia is the third state to ban no-knock warrants and the first to do so since Taylor's death.

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“Virginia is leading the way on policing reforms like this one, which will make our communities safer and our criminal justice system more fair and equitable,” Northam said. “While nothing can bring back Breonna Taylor, and so many others, we honor them when changing laws, when we act to right long-standing wrongs, and when we do the work to make sure more names do not follow theirs.”

Taylor, an EMT, was shot and killed by a trio of plainclothes Louisville police officers in her home on March 13.

The city of Louisville reached a record $12 million settlement with Taylor's family in September, but a grand jury declined to directly indict any of the officers for Taylor's death.

Former officer Brett Hankison was the only person charged by the grand jury; he faces three counts of wanton endangerment that were unrelated to the killing of Taylor. They stem, instead, from the 10 bullets that Hankison blindly fired into Taylor's apartment, some of which traveled into an adjacent, occupied apartment.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) said in his press conference announcing the grand jury's decision that none of Hankison's bullets hit Taylor.

Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, the other two officers, shot Taylor a combined six times, with one of the bullets fired by Cosgrove proving to be fatal. However, Cameron said that under Kentucky law, the officers were “justified” in their use of deadly force since Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot first.

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Cameron has received considerable criticism for his role in the grand jury proceedings after acknowledging that he did not recommend any murder charges. 

A Kentucky judge ruled that the grand jurors could speak openly about the case, an exceedingly rare occurrence given the secretive nature of grand juries.