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Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Wednesday evening there is more to be done to “deliver justice” for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed in her own home in Louisville, Ky., hours after only one of three police officers involved in the shooting of Taylor was indicted on charges not directly related to Taylor’s death.
“I know for so many people today’s decision does not answer that call. A federal investigation remains ongoing, but we do not need to wait for the final judgment of that investigation to do more to deliver justice for Breonna,” said Biden in a statement. “We know what is necessary. We need to start by addressing the use of excessive force, banning choke holds, and overhauling no-knock warrants.”
Biden continued: “We must continue to speak Breonna Taylor’s name, support her family still in grieving, and never give up on ensuring the full promise of America for every American.”
Earlier Wednesday evening Biden said that he had not yet been briefed on the indictment.
“I have not seen the report,” Biden told reporters before traveling from Charlotte, N.C., to Wilmington, Del., according to a pool report. “I was told going in that there’s one charge against one of the officers. I don’t know the details. I’m going to try to find that out on the plane and I’ll comment for you but I just — my heart goes out for her mother.”
Pressed on the issue, Biden reiterated that he had not yet been briefed on the matter.
“I don’t know the details so I’m reluctant to comment. I really don’t. I haven’t had a chance to get briefed. I’ve been asked by the local press the same question. I don’t know enough to comment on. I don’t know the details.”
When asked about the possibility of large-scale protests in response to the decision, however, Biden said that they should remain peaceful.
“Do not sully her memory or her mother’s by engaging in any violence,” he said. It’s totally inappropriate for that to happen. She wouldn’t want it nor would her mother, so I hope they do that.”
Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris told reporters earlier Wednesday that she was still reviewing the decision but “there is no question that Breonna Taylor and her family deserved justice yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
A grand jury charged former Louisville Metro Police Department Detective Brett Hankison with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment on Wednesday for shooting into neighboring residences. His bond is $15,000. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were not indicted by the grand jury. Both Mattingly and Cosgrove were placed on administrative leave after Taylor’s death; Hankison was fired.
On Twitter, Taylor family attorney Ben Crump called the decision “outrageous and offensive.”
Taylor was shot and killed by police in her apartment earlier this year, sparking national outrage and a wrongful death lawsuit that was settled out of court last week for $12 million. The terms of the settlement included a promise on the part of the city to implement several policing reforms.
Taylor was killed after officers attempted to enter her apartment on March 13. According to Louisville officials, the officers were executing a no-knock warrant but knocked anyway and identified themselves before breaking down her door. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he heard pounding at the door but did not hear the officers announce that they were police.
Walker fired what he described as a warning shot, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, which hit Mattingly in the thigh. Police then shot and killed Taylor. Robert Schroeder, the interim chief of the Louisville Metro Police, fired Hankison in June and alleged that he “blindly” fired 10 shots into the apartment. According to the Associated Press, the officers were executing a warrant that pertained to a drug-trafficking investigation that involved Taylor’s ex-boyfriend.
“While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed and the grand jury agreed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday.
Earlier in September, Biden called for the officers involved in the killing of Taylor — as well as the officers involved in the August shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. — to be charged.
“I believe we should let the judicial system work its way. I do think there’s a minimum need to be charged, the officers,” Biden said of Blake’s shooting. He added, “As well as with Breonna Taylor.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer implemented a three-day nighttime curfew ahead of the Wednesday afternoon announcement.
“Our hope is that people will lawfully and peacefully express themselves,” Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said Wednesday. “We will not tolerate destruction of property.”
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