LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – A felony charge placed on more than 80 people who were arrested during a protest outside Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s house will be dropped.
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell released the following statement Friday afternoon:
“After careful review of the law, I am dismissing the felony charge of Intimidating a Participant in the Legal Process against the protestors arrested on Attorney General Cameron’s property on July 14, 2020. While we do believe the LMPD had probable cause for the charge, in the interest of justice and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas, we will dismiss that charge for each protestor arrested this past Tuesday. We continue to review the misdemeanors and violations for prosecution at a later date.
Pursuant to KRS 431.076, our office will assist the protestors in expunging the felony charge from their record thirty (30) days after the dismissal.”
A total of 87 arrests were made when protesters occupied Cameron’s front lawn on July 14. Among the people charged were NFL player Kenny Stills, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Porsha Williams and “Love and Hip Hop” star Yandy Smith.
Karl Price, the attorney for Williams, thought the charge was an overreach from the beginning.
”I think maybe law enforcement, LMPD, at that time, reasoned that the only way we can end this is that we find a reason to arrest everybody,” Price said.
On many misdemeanors and violations, police write citations without arrests, unless the person is a danger to themselves or others. LMPD said the group’s “Burn it down” chant was threatening.
”It’s a common chant that after the George Floyd killing that you heard in a lot of jurisdictions,” Price explained. “They were simply talking about the system.”
LMPD said the protesters’ goal was to escalate, which to the officers meant violence like it has at times in the past, taking the chant to the level of criminal intimidation.
“It’s not if it’s an implied threat, it has to be a direct threat,” Price said. “None of those protesters had direct contact with the alleged victim, which is Mr. Cameron.”
Price said you have to look at the big picture in this case and take politics out of it. He added that the protesters went above and beyond to make it clear they came in peace.
”I think now we can see that reasonable minds are turning now, and I think we can all put our heads together and come up with a reasonable resolution,” Price said.
When asked whether he thought LMPD or the County Attorney was right, Mayor Greg Fischer did not take a side.
“Our police officers are out there doing the best job they possibly can,” he said. “They’re weighing everything that’s going on and they make the charge. Obviously, Mike O’Connell thought in the interest of free speech the charges should be dropped.”
Attorney General Daniel Cameron issued a statement saying he respects the process and decision made by the County Attorney.
LMPD spokeswoman Jessie Halladay released the following statement after O’Connell’s decision was announced:
“Officers have to make the best decisions they can with the information they have at the time, and we appreciate that the County Attorney agreed that the officers in this case had probable cause to make the charges they did.
The County Attorney must weigh several factors when considering next steps, and we respect the decision he announced today.”