LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Breonna Taylor’s mother supported a grassroots campaign on Monday aimed at defeating Republican Daniel Cameron’s bid for Kentucky governor. during a police raid.
Tamika Palmer plunged into the political fray on what would have been her daughter’s 30th birthday. Breonna Taylor’s death in 2020 sparked nationwide protests for racial justice alongside the murder of George Floyd.
Palmer and other activists announced a campaign to bolster voter registration and turnout against Cameron’s bid to remove Democratic Governor Andy Beshear from office in November.
Taylor’s family and dozens of protesters have long blamed Cameron for the lack of criminal charges against the officers for Taylor’s death on March 13, 2020. Police opened fire in Taylor’s Louisville apartment after her boyfriend fired at them from a hallway , involving one of the officers. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has said he thought he was shooting at an intruder.
Cameron, Kentucky’s first black attorney general, was thrust into the national spotlight as his office investigated the shooting and officers’ actions that day.
Cameron has defended the investigation, saying he “followed the law without fear or favor”. Palmer and other activists said Monday that Cameron’s handling of the case shows he is not qualified to be governor.
“He decided we didn’t matter,” Palmer told reporters at a park in downtown Louisville, the epicenter of the 2020 Louisville protests. “He decided Breonna didn’t deserve justice.”
Lonita Baker, one of the attorneys representing the Taylor family’s lawsuit against the city of Louisville and its police department, said on Monday that Cameron’s investigation angered her.
“As a former prosecutor, I knew there was enough evidence to charge the officers responsible,” Baker said. “As a former prosecutor, I knew that Daniel Cameron didn’t even raise the question of whether those officers should be charged.”
At a highly publicized press conference in September 2020, Cameron announced the grand jury’s findings, which were to charge an officer with endangerment for shooting at a neighbor’s apartment. That officer was later acquitted at trial. After the grand jury’s findings were announced, Cameron said the grand jurors “agreed” that murder charges were not warranted against the officers. That statement enraged the protesters and prompted some grand jurors to take the extraordinary step of speaking publicly to challenge Cameron’s account of the closed proceedings.
In a 2021 interview with The Associated Press, Cameron said his prosecutors had a duty “to come up with recommendations that they believe can prove to a jury in a trial. That was what our prosecutors felt was appropriate.”
At Monday’s anti-Cameron event, Shameka Parrish-Wright, who is black and a former Louisville mayoral candidate, said she “would like to see a black man running for governor, but not Daniel Cameron.”
“He lost that when he denied justice to Breonna Taylor,” she said. “He lost that when he didn’t appoint a special prosecutor. He lost that when he didn’t properly inform the grand jury.”
Activists said they plan to open offices in Louisville and another in Lexington – Kentucky’s two largest cities – to solicit neighborhoods and operate phone banks in a mobilization against Cameron. In 2019, Beshear won the counties containing these two cities by about 135,000 votes by narrowly defeating then Republican Governor Matt Bevin.
Cameron, who is closely associated with former President Donald Trump, says Taylor’s death was a tragedy. In campaign speeches, Cameron has turned protests over the matter into a call for support from Republican voters, portraying it as an example of his fortitude in the face of pressure. He speaks of a demonstration by protesters in July 2020 on his front yard that led to dozens of arrests.
“It is my duty to follow the law no matter what — even if protesters show up on my lawn,” Cameron said in a statement Monday.
In 2020, three jurors from the 12-member grand jury came forward to say that Cameron’s team limited their scope and misled them about what charges they could consider against the officers. Beshear, who preceded Cameron as attorney general, points to that development in his criticism of Cameron’s handling of the case.
“The first time I’ve ever heard of it, grand jurors are coming forward and accusing the Supreme Prosecutor of lying,” Beshear said in a recent interview with the AP. and lie about what they might decide.
Kentucky State Representative Kevin Bratcher, a Republican from Louisville, has firmly defended Cameron’s handling of the case.
“I think the way Daniel’s critics have attacked him isn’t fair because I think he did what he thought was right and he followed the letter of the law,” Bratcher said recently.