Pritzker, Lightfoot condemn Breonna Taylor decision
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot answers questions in response to a Kentucky grand jury's decision not to indict any officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Also pictured at left are Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, a sign language interpreter (center) and Gov. JB Pritzker. (Credit: Blueroomstream.com)
Governor calls lack of serious charges ‘gross miscarriage of justice’
By RAYMON TRONCOSO
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned a Jefferson County, Kentucky, grand jury’s decision to not charge Louisville officers in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor and called for protests of the decision to be peaceful.
“This is, to put it simply, a gross miscarriage of justice,” Pritzker said at a joint news conference with Lightfoot and others Wednesday. “The circumstances surrounding Breonna Taylor’s death brings an overwhelming sense of rage, of passion, of sorrow, to so many… Our justice system has a long history of failing Black Americans.”
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Wednesday that only one officer, Brett Hankison, would be indicted on three charges of wanton endangerment for shooting 10 rounds into an apartment neighboring Taylor’s that was occupied by three people. Hankison was fired by the Louisville Metro Police Department in June.
The indictment does not mention Taylor or her death. According to Cameron, the FBI is still investigating whether officers violated Taylor’s civil rights.
Taylor was killed after three plainclothes LMPD officers, including Hankison, were serving a warrant looking for her ex-boyfriend and entered her apartment. Taylor’s current boyfriend at the time, a legal gun owner, fired once, at what he said he believed were intruders, wounding an officer. Officers returned fire more than 30 times, killing Taylor in her hallway.
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton noted that Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was the same age as her own daughter.
“Today, justice was denied. Breonna was shot to death in her own home… Her life was taken, a life of value and promise,” she said.
Anticipating public protest and large gatherings in the aftermath of the announcement, Lightfoot called for peace.
“I know that many, upon hearing of this verdict, will feel confusion and anger and disbelief and many of you will want to express yourselves,” Lightfoot said. “I want you to know that I support you and will do everything in my power to protect you as you voice your righteous anger.”
At an unrelated news conference earlier in the day, Pritzker said the National Guard was at the ready but the state wouldn’t activate soldiers “until they’re needed.”
Lawmakers across the state expressed indignation at the lack of charges for Taylor’s death in statements and over social media.
“The fact that none of the officers was charged directly for Breonna’s death makes it clear that our justice system does not equally value Black life, and that has to change,” state Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said in a release.
“Breonna Taylor should be alive right now. We keep seeing the same stories over and over again,” state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, wrote in another. “It is exhausting and upsetting; 2020 has shown just how flawed our institutions are within a system stacked against us. Do not let anyone shut down the fight for a better world.”
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.