Campus responds to Breonna Taylor charges Wednesday, Sep 23 2020 

By Joseph Garcia — 

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a Jefferson County Grand Jury would charge only one officer, former LMPD detective Brett Hankison, with wanton endangerment in the case of Breonna Taylor’s murder.

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi called the announcement “a reminder that we must recommit to pursuing racial justice and pushing for changes in law enforcement, our legal system, public policy and our educational curricula.”

Taylor was killed March 13 when three LMPD officers entered her home with a “no-knock” warrant. When the police came through the door, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a one round at police after asking who was there and receiving no response. The officers returned more than two dozen shots. Taylor’s death certificate says she was shot five times, however today, Cameron said she was actually struck six times.

Hankison is the only one of the three officers indicted. He is charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for firing into neighbor’s apartments, not for the death of Taylor.

A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony, it comes with a penalty of one to five years.

“While I am pleased that the grand jury has acknowledged the unlawful actions of this police officer and that he will be tried for the unnecessary violence he caused that night,” Bendapudi told students, faculty and staff.  “I am disappointed that our justice system allows these atrocities to occur all too often with relatively little consequence.”

Bendapudi said the attorney general’s announcement does not change the fact that Taylor was killed in her home.

“It does not fix a system that allowed that to happen,” she said, citing a Harvard study which found that Black people are three times more likely on average than white people to be killed during a police interaction.

U of L’s Student Government Association Top 4 said they too are disappointed that Taylor will “not receive the justice she so deserved.”

“For many of our students, waiting for this announcement has been an incredibly emotional time,” SGA said in a statement on social media. “These results will be very difficult to handle, especially for our Black students.”

The university is offering resources for students, faculty and staff to heal during this time.

Faculty and staff may use the Employee Assistance Program to receive counseling services. While U of L’s Counseling Center is offering virtual and personal counseling sessions for students, which SGA said is free to students as part of the $50 insurance fee billed at the start of the year.

“As long as you have not voided this fee on ULink, your visit to the Counseling Center will be covered,” they said.

Some professors have already begun listening to what their student’s are feeling and have canceled their classes.

“I want to respond to the needs of my students,” Siobhan Smith-Jones said after cancelling her 4 o’clock Mass Communications course.

Smith-Jones said she would have continued with class had the students wanted to, pushing down her own feelings of hurt.

“Because I am hurt, I know many of my students are too,” she said. “They are also confused, disappointed and disgusted. They want to protest or protect themselves and their families.”

“I’m here to help, not hinder,” Smith-Jones said.

She also added that the ramifications of this decision will impact Louisville, and therefore U of L, for years to come.

“Our students will have a hand in making the changes needed to our socio-political systems,” she said. “They have a perspective that no one else has; this is their city.”

“So in that,” she said. “Canceling class is a small thing.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Louisville Mayor Declares State Of Emergency Due To ‘Potential For Civil Unrest’ Tuesday, Sep 22 2020 

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declared a state of emergency Tuesday pending an announcement by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron regarding the Breonna Taylor case.

Cameron is expected to say publicly whether officers who shot and killed Taylor in her home on March 13 will face criminal charges. While the time and date of such an announcement are not known, the closure of federal buildings, downtown traffic restrictions and other measures indicate it may come soon.

Fischer said in a press release that he does not know when Cameron will address the issue.


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Kentucky AG Says No Announcement In Breonna Taylor Case This Week Sunday, Aug 30 2020 

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Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced on Sunday that his office now has the FBI ballistics report from the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

Cameron referred to the new information as a “critical piece” of the investigation during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, adding that more witness interviews still need to be conducted. Cameron said he will meet with FBI officials this week to review the report.

After the television interview, Cameron said on Twitter that his office doesn’t plan to announce any decisions on the case this week.


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Kentuckians Stump For Trump During Republican National Convention Tuesday, Aug 25 2020 

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Three Kentuckians spoke during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday including Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who praised President Donald Trump and criticized protests that have erupted around the country in recent months.

Cameron is the first Black person elected to statewide office in Kentucky and is currently investigating the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman and emergency room technician killed by Louisville police in March.

During his speech, Cameron criticized “the politics of identity, cancellation and mob rule.”


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Felony Charges Against Protesters Rare, Unlikely To Stick, Experts Say Wednesday, Jul 15 2020 

The felony intimidation charges brought against protesters outside Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s home on Tuesday are rarely used this way and unlikely to stick, according to court records and local lawyers.

Sam Marcosson, a professor of law at the University of Louisville, called the felony charges of intimidating a participant in a legal process “outrageous.” Marcosson, an expert in criminal and Constitutional law, said he didn’t think they were justified based on Kentucky law or the U.S. Constitution.

“If the idea that the (Louisville Metro Police Department) is seeking to put out there is that protest is in and of itself a form of intimidation, then the First Amendment means nothing… We’ve thrown it out,” he said.

In total, 87 protesters were arrested after a peaceful sit-in on Cameron’s East End front lawn. They were also charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and the violation of criminal trespass, according to a statement from LMPD. An estimated 200 protesters participated in the action, some from out of state.

Police spokesperson Jessie Halladay said in an email Wednesday that the decision on charges came from commanders at the scene.

“The felony charge is based on protesters trespassing onto the Attorney General’s property, refusing to leave and chanting that if they didn’t get what they want they would burn it down,” she said. “That was deemed an attempt to intimidate, persuade or influence the Attorney General’s decision.”

Cameron’s office is responsible for deciding whether to bring criminal charges against the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor. The 26-year-old Black woman’s death — and the subsequent lack of charges against the officers — precipitated weeks of ongoing protests in Louisville.

Tuesday’s demonstration focused on calling on Cameron to deliver justice for Taylor by arresting and prosecuting the officers who shot her. Cameron said as recently as Monday that he would not put a timeline on when his office would complete its investigation.

Marcosson criticized LMPD’s interpretation of the protest chant, which invokes “burning down” systems of oppression. He put it in the same category as another common chant: “No justice, no peace.” Both, he said, could refer to anger directed at a larger system or the state of things, rather than a particular individual.

“The state has a very high burden to have to show that something really was directed, intended as a threat and that a particular individual was being targeted,” he said.

Plus, he said, the statute is not typically used this way.

Questioned intentions

The statute defining the offense, KRS 524.040, describes it as “use of physical force or a threat directed to a person he believes to be a participant in the legal process.” It’s a felony, and Kentucky still has a lifetime felony disenfranchisement law. People convicted of felonies in Kentucky cannot vote, serve on a jury or possess a firearm.

The intention is to protect witnesses who might be threatened to stop them from testifying in cases, Marcosson said. To consider Cameron a “participant in a legal matter” in the way intended by the statute would be a stretch, he said.

Attorney David Mour said he believed the protesters were “vastly over-charged,” and that the felony charges were being used as a “political weapon.” Muor said he may represent some of the defendants as they fight these charges.

“It’s an effort to suppress the First Amendment right of assembly and the First Amendment right to free speech, and to try to take constitutional rights away from these people,” he said.

Mour questioned the application of the charge, given that protesters didn’t appear to use force or verbally threaten Cameron. He said he did not attend the protest, but watched via livestream.

“I think it’s extremely improbable that all 87 of those people uttered some threat of harm against the Attorney General, such as to give rise to charges of that,” he said.

Elizabeth Kuhn, a spokesperson for Cameron’s office, said in an emailed statement that they “respect the decisions made by the arresting agency and appreciate their assistance in upholding the law.”

“Ultimately, any charges will be subject to the legal process and further review by prosecutors,”  Kuhn’s statement said.

Ingrid Geiser, director of the criminal division of the County Attorney’s Office, said in an email that the Office was not involved in the charging decisions.

“We will review all available facts and evidence and proceed on a case by case basis,” she said in an email.

Double standard?

Marcosson and Mour each compared the issuance of these charges to a different protest in May, when a group rallying in support of gun rights and against coronavirus restrictions hanged an effigy of Gov. Andy Beshear in front of his residence in Frankfort.

No one was arrested in connection with the hanging. One person was fired by a private employer.

“How many people got charged? Zero,” Mour said. “Because we don’t charge white dudes with guns and who are protesting taking away their freedoms because they can’t go get their hair cut.”

LMPD was not involved in that protest, as it took place in Frankfort. But Marcosson said the differential treatment of the two groups of protesters highlights the problem. Police and others must take care not to interpret speech as threatening simply because of the identity of the person producing it, he said.

“If the same statement is made by a woman or a white person, it might be seen as not threatening at all by a police officer or by the person who is the recipient of the speech, the target of the speech, whereas when it comes from somebody who’s a person of color or from a man, it can be interpreted very differently, even the exact same speech,” he said.

Frequency of use

Records show that the charges for intimidating a participant in a legal process levied Tuesday night represent more than a third of all such charges in Louisville in the last year and a half.

The intimidation charge was used 216 times since the start of 2019, according to crime data released online by LMPD, which is current through July 10. This dataset represents “calls for police service where a police incident report was taken.”

The charge has been used 701 times since 2015, according to District court records. Less than a quarter of those produced indictments and advanced to Circuit court.

It was most often used in the 40215 zip code in the south Louisville area that includes Churchill Downs, with 30 such charges there since early 2019, according to the police’s publicly-available crime data. There were 20 charges in the western area covered by the 40211 zip code, and 16 times further south in the Iroquois Park area.

The citation data released online by LMPD show about 54% of those cited were Black, in a city whose population is about 23% Black. The use of the citation overall had decreased from a high of 228 in 2012 to 23 so far this year — until Tuesday’s dozens of arrests including that charge.

In Kentucky, Class D felony charges can carry sentences of one to five years in prison, as well as fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

Jacob Ryan contributed reporting.

Despite Court Ruling, One Farmer’s Market Keeps Coronavirus Rules Monday, Jul 13 2020 

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It’s a beautiful Saturday morning at the St. Matthew’s Farmers Market, where Donna Gritton has set up her stand selling “Granny’s Delights.” She comes in every week from her farm in Nelson County to sell squash, zucchini, tomatoes and more.

This standing Saturday morning appointment is a good source of income, so she’s glad they were able to open this year. But as a “member of the at-risk generation,” as she puts it, she’s also glad that the market is enforcing strict rules.

Everyone is wearing masks, there’s hand sanitizer everywhere and market staff help keep the lines socially distanced.


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Attorney General: Breonna Taylor Investigation Requires Time And Patience Thursday, Jun 18 2020 

Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Thursday the investigation into Breonna Taylor’s shooting death by Louisville police is proceeding, but he cannot give a specific date when it might be complete.

His office is still getting information from the Louisville Metro Police Department, he said, as well as conducting their own independent investigation about the shooting.

“You have my commitment that our office is undertaking a thorough and fair investigation,” he said.

Taylor Family

Cameron said an investigation of “this magnitude requires time and patience,” and his office is “working around the clock” to get to the truth. Cameron also said he is “heartbroken” for the loss endured by Taylor’s family.

He said he understands that the case has “garnered a lot of attention,” even from celebrities like Beyoncé, who sent a letter demanding justice for Taylor. 

“Just like I ask every Kentuckian to be patient with us, even those folks from out of the Commonwealth that have expressed an interest in this case, I asked for their patience as well,” Cameron said.

When asked about changing policy on how police shooting investigations are handled in the future, Cameron said it’s not his role to make those decisions.

“I’ll let others sort of opine about the policy decisions that need to be made going forward,” he said.

Taylor was 26 when she was killed on March 13 by plainclothes LMPD officers while they were executing a warrant at her home.

Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot that struck an officer in the leg, according to police. Walker said he believed they were getting robbed. The officers returned fire and killed Taylor.

LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, have been on paid leave since the shooting.

Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault. But Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced in May that he would drop the charges, pending further investigation by the FBI and Kentucky Attorney General’s office.

Eleanor Klibanoff | wfpl.org

The Hall of Justice downtown on Thursday.

Shortly before the press conference, as rumors swirled on social media that Cameron might announce a decision today, workers boarded up the Hall of Justice.

The building has been at the epicenter of three weeks of protests in downtown Louisville against police violence.

Price Gouging Complaints Flood Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, But Details Scarce Tuesday, Mar 24 2020 

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office is investigating hundreds of complaints from consumers about alleged price gouging as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the state.

The office tallied 860 complaints by Monday afternoon, said Attorney General Daniel Cameron. 

The complaints have flooded into the office since Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on March 6 and issued an order prohibiting price gouging the next day. 

In an interview Tuesday, Cameron said the complaints are primarily related to the sale of consumer food items, emergency and medical supplies. The alleged violators include brick and mortar shops and online retailers, but Cameron declined to provide details, citing ongoing investigations. He said his office has issued letters to some companies, but has yet to issue any fines.

Companies can face civil fines up to $25,000 for violating the state’s price gouging laws.

A company can be found in violation of the state’s price gouging laws if they are found to be selling a good or service for a price “which is grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration” of a state of emergency.

Prices that are more than 10 percent higher than they were before a state of emergency is declared may be in violation of the law.

The law also includes certain categories for services subject to price gouging enforcement. They include consumer food items; goods or services used for emergency cleanup; emergency supplies; medical supplies; home heating oil; building materials; housing; transportation, freight, and storage services; and gasoline or other motor fuels.

Cameron said his office is taking an “all hands on deck” approach to investigating price gouging complaints, even pulling in staff attorneys who don’t regularly focus on consumer matters.

“This office is responsible for upholding the safety of the people of the state,” he said. “We stand ready to do so.”

State law mandates price gouging orders can only remain in effect for 15-day increments and can only be extended for three additional 15-day increments.

Cameron declined to say if additional extensions would be needed presently, and said those conversations would be had when the time comes.

The state’s price gouging laws were cemented in statute in 2004, and can only be enacted by the governor. Since 2008, online state records show the law has been put into effect 19 times — but they nearly always come in response to severe weather. In fact, Beshear’s two most recent orders — the original order, and an extension last week — are the only instances in which price gouging prohibitions were put in place for something other than weather incidents.

Cameron also warned of scams during the pandemic, especially those from people posing as government officials connected to the Centers for Disease Control or UNICEF.

“There are folks that are trying to take advantage of the moment by passing themselves off as legitimate entities,” he said.

He also said his office is paying attention to predatory lending practices.

“You do everything you can to be vigilant, to make sure [people] are not being defrauded in this uncertain moment,” he said. “We are standing the gap.”

Residents can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office online here or call 1-888-432-9257.

Daniel Cameron Sworn In As Kentucky’s First Black Attorney General Tuesday, Dec 17 2019 

Attorney General Daniel Cameron at the Republicans' 2019 Election PartyDaniel Cameron has been sworn in as Kentucky’s next attorney general. He is the first Republican to hold the office since 1948 and the first African American elected on his own ticket to statewide office.

Cameron was supposed to take office on January 6, but started early after newly-elected Gov. Andy Beshear appointed him to fill a vacancy in the office. Beshear, a Democrat, was the previous attorney general and was inaugurated as Kentucky’s 63rd governor on December 10.

“I appreciate Gov. Beshear for making this very early appointment,” Cameron said after he was sworn in Tuesday morning. “It says a lot about the culture, the atmosphere and the environment that I think begins anew here in our state’s Capitol.”

So far Cameron’s rapport with Beshear has been friendlier than Beshear’s relationship with former Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bevin and Beshear feuded throughout the four years they were in office at the same time, ranging from personal attacks to numerous lawsuits filed by Beshear against Bevin’s official actions.

Cameron said he would continue what he called “the good work that was started by Gov. Beshear.”

“We will work diligently on behalf of all Kentuckians to make sure we are a voice for the voiceless, to makes sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to ensure, to promote and improve the public safety outcomes that we have here in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Cameron said.

Cameron is a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and previously worked as a corporate attorney and spokesman for criminal justice reform group Kentucky Smart On Crime.

Cameron is the first African American in Kentucky to win state office on his own ticket. He said he hoped his election would encourage more people who look like him to run for office.

“I hope it says to people that look like me that regardless of what your political affiliation is, that not only can you cast a ballot in an election, but you can also put your name on that ballot, that you will be judged on your merit, your talent and your skills rather than the color of your skin,” Cameron said.

Cameron defeated former Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo on Election Day this year with a little more than 57 percent of the vote. Stumbo is a former Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives and served as attorney general between 2004 and 2008.

Judge Rules GOP AG Candidate Cameron Can Appear On Ballot Thursday, Oct 10 2019 

A judge says that Republican attorney general candidate Daniel Cameron will appear on the November ballot, ruling against a lawsuit that claimed Cameron did not have the required years of experience for the office.

Louisville resident Joseph Jackson filed the lawsuit last month, arguing that the two years Cameron spent as a clerk for a federal judge should not count as years spent as a practicing attorney.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Barry Willett ruled against Jackson in the lawsuit, saying that by Election Day, Cameron will have the requisite eight years of experience required by the Kentucky Constitution.

“There is no meaningful distinction between the professional responsibilities Mr. Cameron performed as a federal judicial law clerk and his responsibilities as legal counsel for Senate Majority Leader McConnell. Both positions involved ‘services rendered involving legal knowledge or legal advice,’” Willett wrote.

Cameron is a protégé of McConnell and worked for him between 2015 and 2017. Since then he has worked as a corporate lawyer for Frost Brown Todd in Louisville.

If elected, Cameron would be the second African American in state history to win a statewide election in Kentucky — the first being current Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

The Kentucky Bar Association admitted Cameron on Oct 21, 2011 — a little more than eight years before Election Day on Nov. 5.

In a statement, Cameron said he was “thrilled to put this frivolous lawsuit behind us” and claimed that his Democratic opponent Greg Stumbo was behind the challenge.

“It’s sad that Greg Stumbo stooped to this level. He can’t win an election straight up so he tried and failed to cheat us off the ballot,” Cameron wrote in the statement. “For someone who talks about experience all the time it is funny that Stumbo and his cronies don’t understand the law.”

In a statement, Stumbo denied Cameron’s claim that he was involved in the lawsuit, but said that the challenge underscores Cameron’s lack of experience.

“I am not a party to this litigation and had nothing to do with the lawsuit, however, now Mr. Cameron admitted under oath how little law he has practiced,” Stumbo wrote.

“Kentucky voters deserve a candidate with decades of legal experience in real courtrooms, trying real cases at the highest levels. I have spent my life becoming a seasoned trial attorney in the courtrooms of this state on behalf of Kentuckians.  My opponent has never even prosecuted a traffic ticket citation.”

Stumbo is 67 and has also tried to make 33-year-old Cameron’s age and experience an issue in this year’s race.

Stumbo is a former House Speaker who previously served as attorney general from 2004 to 2008.

Sean Rankin, executive director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, said in a statement that despite the ruling, Cameron has a “real lack of legal experience.”

“This process put a microscope on Cameron’s limited career with no experience in court. Voters took notice — and what they see is someone who could barely make it onto the ballot and someone who lacks enough experience to do the job of Attorney General,” Rankin wrote.

In his defense against the lawsuit, Cameron’s compared it to a 1995 challenge by Republican Will T. Scott, who sued to try and have Democrat Ben Chandler removed from the ballot in that year’s race for attorney general.

Scott unsuccessfully argued that Chandler didn’t have the required years of experience because he didn’t practice law while serving as Kentucky’s state auditor. Chandler remained on the ballot and won the race.

Republican Party of Kentucky spokesperson Mike Lonergan praised the ruling, saying Cameron is an “experienced attorney with a strong record of accomplishment” and also claimed that Stumbo was behind the lawsuit.

“We’re pleased to see the judge ruled that this election should be decided by the voters,” Lonergan wrote. “Greg Stumbo and his allies know they can’t win at the polls so they’ve turned to dirty political tricks like this absurd lawsuit. Kentucky voters have already rejected Stumbo before and we can retire him and his underhanded schemes once and for all on Nov. 5.”

This story has been updated.

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