Special prosecutor requested to look into LMPD investigation of Breonna Taylor’s death

Governor Andy Beshear commented on needing to restore confidence in our justice system.
Updated: May. 16, 2020 at 9:03 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney sent a letter to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office Wednesday asking it to appoint a special prosecutor to review the results of LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor.

Mayor Greg Fischer said the PIU investigation was close to being finished Wednesday. He explained an officer involved shooting investigation usually takes months.

The next step would be to submit findings to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Tom Wine, to review for any criminal conduct on the officer’s part. However, Wine’s office is already prosecuting Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend who shot at officers once they entered the apartment during the raid on March 13. His arrest slip says he immediately hit Sgt. Jon Mattingly in the upper left thigh, striking his femoral artery.

Mattingly has recovered, but Walker, who claims self-defense, is charged with attempted murder of a police officer.

In the letter Wine’s office wrote, it was stated it would be a conflict for his office to handle both cases and called for a special prosecutor to investigate.

“My office will be reaching out to the Attorney General’s office to discuss next steps. I have also been in touch with the Governor and will be reaching out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office about this matter,” Fischer said.

Fischer isn’t the only elected official who says they are taking a close look at the investigation; Governor Andy Beshear also commented on needing to restore confidence in our justice system.

“What I’ve asked for is, when that preliminary investigation is done, that it would be reviewed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Kentucky Attorney General and the US Attorney,” Beshear said.

Walker was released on home incarceration March 26, after he pleaded not guilty. He’s due back in court June 25.

Read Mayor Fischer’s full statement below:

"Let me start by emphasizing that any loss of life is a tragedy.

And, I also want to recognize that police work is very difficult.

In these types of tragic situations, people always want quick answers, and they think the answers should be easy to get– but there’s usually no easy answers in complicated situations like this.

There are a lot of steps in this process, in situations involving an officer-involved shooting.

In this case, LMPD held a press conference about the incident at Breonna Taylor’s home the day it happened, providing all the possible details and personnel files of the officers involved. A video of that press conference is on the LMPD Facebook page.

Because a Public Integrity Unit (PIU) investigation was begun that day, we have not commented further; it’s not appropriate because of potential litigation.

The PIU handles all police shooting cases; their investigations typically take a few months, so there’s nothing unusual about this one in terms of the time.

This investigation started on March 13, 2020; that was the date of the incident at Breonna Taylor’s home. And the PIU team expects to be wrapping this up in the coming weeks. Chief Conrad certainly understands that this is a priority.

Next, the case will be submitted to the Commonwealth’s Attorney to determine potential prosecution.

If Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine does not pursue charges, or once a potential case is over, the matter is handed over for review by the Professional Standards Unit, which could then lead to discipline from the Chief, if that is deemed appropriate.

My office has been in conversation with Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine’s office. I understand he will be recusing himself from this case, as he has a conflict – he is handling prosecution of the person who is charged in the shooting of Officer Jonathan Mattingly during the incident.

He has notified the Attorney General’s office of his recusal. My office will be reaching out to the Attorney General’s office to discuss next steps. I have also been in touch with the Governor and will be reaching out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office about this matter.

We all want to get to the same place, to get to the truth as quickly as we possibly can. It is possible that an independent investigation could be called for, as I have done in the past. My administration has always been open to review, and if that is called for, we will absolutely cooperate.

I just want to emphasize that I represent the people of Louisville, I do not represent any special interest group, I do not represent any specific department or agency. My priority is simply the truth. Getting to the truth and let justice follow that.

As for civilian review, there are three levels of that which already exist:

First, as Mayor, I have the power to initiate an investigation. I have demonstrated before that I will do that, and I will do it again if I have to.

Second is the Police Merit Board, which has the power to make decisions over hiring, firing, promotions and discipline.

And third is the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability, which conducts reviews to advise the Mayor and the Chief on the adequacy and quality of investigations and may recommend changes in police policy, training and procedures.

And I’m going to continue this conversation over the coming days to see if there are other ways to include civilian review; other cities around the nation have worked on this with varying degrees of success.

But there are broader issues to consider here. Policing, as I’ve said, is a dangerous and unpredictable profession where split second decisions are often required. And, we have to recognize the historically difficult relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.

Like communities across the nation, Louisville unfortunately has these challenges. We have been leaning into those challenges over the years, and we’ll continue to do so. We’ve always got to work on police and community relations. You do not sweep this underneath the rug. It is reality.

That is why we’ve been working on it and will continue to do so, knowing it’s essential for us to do that to build trust in our community. That trust is necessary for all of our opportunities to flourish. Everybody has the right to that.

And I just ask people to trust that as all of this comes together, you have my total commitment to transparency in the process. And again, I just want to say when any loss of life takes place in this community, it’s a very tragic day."

The Louisville Branch of the NAACP also called for a separate investigation Wednesday. Their statement is below:

"The Louisville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”), with its central mission being to protect and to advocate for the civil rights of all citizens, finds the tragic death of Breonna Taylor and the circumstances surrounding her death a civil rights issue which must be addressed sooner than later. We believe that can only be done through an impartial and independent investigation into her death. This investigation should be led by law enforcement investigators and prosecutors outside the Louisville community. All evidence found, including the full and complete investigative report and all the details should be made available to the public. The NAACP and the community require and will not accept anything less than this.

The NAACP is on record, and most recently a few months ago, calling on the Mayor of Louisville and its Police Chief to support the establishment of a civilian review board with subpoena power in Metro Louisville. We again call on the Mayor and our elected leaders to publicly state their support for the creation of this board and commit to take action to bring about its creation."

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