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Kern County community leaders react to Breonna Taylor grand jury decision

Posted at 5:18 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 20:18:56-04

The Kentucky attorney general announced the grand jury report in the deadly shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor on Wednesday. Grand jurors indicted one of the three officers involved for "wanton endangerment in the first degree." 23ABC's Bayan Wang spoke to Kern County leaders about their reaction to the decision.

Grand jurors indicted one officer for wanton endangerment, which means the officer recklessly fired his gun. Kentucky's Attorney General Daniel Cameron said that put Breonna Taylor's neighbors in danger. But none of the officers were charged with killing 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.

Racial Injustice Breonna Taylor
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron addresses the media following the return of a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor, in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Of the three Louisville Metro police officers being investigated, one was indicted. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

"This is a tragedy and sometimes the law, the criminal law is not adequate to respond to a tragedy and I fully acknowledge that," said Cameron.

Grand jurors only indicted former police officer Brett Hankison for wanton endangerment, meaning the grand jury felt Hankison mindlessly fired his gun into Taylor's home with bullets entering an adjacent apartment where a family of three were present.

Moments after the grand jury report was released some Kentucky residents went into the streets to show their disappointment.

Community leaders in Bakersfield reacted to the news.

"It is outrageous to think that it was reckless for him to shoot into the house but it doesn't affect her," said Pastor V.K. Jones of the People's Baptist Church.

"I think we should never expect the law to not be positioned to protect us," added Arleana Waller with ShePOWER, a non-profit leadership, and mentoring organization. "We should never expect this."

The community leaders also took issue with the attorney general not releasing the racial and gender makeup of the grand jurors.

"What rule or standard prevents you from releasing the racial and gender makeup of the grand jury," Cameron was asked?

"The fact that this has received so much scrutiny, I think it would be inappropriate for me to share the information about the makeup of the grand jury to the extent that I can protect them," responded Cameron.

Waller believes the attorney general needed to be more transparent.

"You can't even reveal their gender, their race, their sex," she asked. "This was a complete s--t show."

"If that grand jury had a representation of people of color, they would have been glad to announce that," said Jones.

"If he couldn't release the information, it's because nine times out of then the information would have sent the community into an uproar," added Tiara King, vice president of Retrain the Night.

Racial Injustice-Breonna Taylor
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Louisville Metro Police Department shows officer Brett Hankison. A Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, indicted the former police officer for shooting into neighboring apartments but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Breonna Taylor’s death. The jury announced that fired Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid of Taylor's home on the night of March 13. (Louisville Metro Police Department via AP, File)

Former officer Hankison was fired back in June. Six other officers involved in the incident are under internal investigation.

The community leaders 23ABC spoke with also said that they understand that people are frustrated about this and they understand there may be protests but they're asking the public to keep them peaceful.