Sen. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, said during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday night that she does not believe justice was done in the Breonna Taylor case, which concluded with no homicide charges filed against the three officers involved in the deadly shooting.
Debate moderator Susan Page, the USA Today Washington bureau chief, briefly summarized the March 13 shooting in Louisville, Ky., before asking Harris if she agreed with the outcome.
“I’ve talked with Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and her family — and her family deserves justice,” Harris said. “She was a beautiful young woman.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, was shot and killed during a botched search of her apartment. Police executed a “no-knock” warrant at her home while she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep. Louisville officials said police announced themselves before entering, but Walker said neither he nor Taylor heard the officers say who they were. Officials said Walker fired a warning shot, prompting return fire from the three officers.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said on Sept. 23 that two of the officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and police Detective Myles Cosgrove, were justified in the shooting because they fired in self-defense. One of the officers, Brett Hankison, was indicted for firing into nearby apartments.
The Republican attorney general said none of the officers would be charged directly with Taylor’s death, outraging Taylor’s supporters and sparking protests across the country.
When Page asked Pence the same question about Taylor during the debate, he said he trusts the justice system.
“Our heart breaks [over] the loss of any innocent American life, and the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies,” he said. “But I trust our justice system, a grand jury that reviews the evidence. And it really is remarkable,” Pence said to Harris, “that as a former prosecutor, you would assume that an impaneled grand jury looking at all the evidence got it wrong, but you’re entitled to your opinion, senator.”
After Cameron’s announcement last month, he revealed that his office did not present homicide charges to the grand jury, and attorneys for Taylor’s family have called on him to recuse himself from the case. Last week, an anonymous member of the jury filed a motion to compel Cameron’s office to release the grand jury recordings. A judge granted the motion, and Cameron’s office complied on Friday.
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