Breonna Taylor Hearing – January 30, 2021, 11 am Eastern
Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Breonna Taylor
- Rapporteur Priscilla Ocen
- Commissioner Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo
- Commissioner Sir Clare Roberts
- Ms. Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor
- Mr. Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Taylor family
- Ms. Lonita Baker, attorney for the Taylor family
Priscilla Ocen 00:00
As we can, okay, great. I think everyone is here. We have both of our commissioners, so we’ll go ahead and get started as it’s 11am, 8am Pacific. Good morning. Welcome to the hearings of the International Commission of Inquiry on systemic racist police violence against people of African descent in the United States. These hearings are a process by which witnesses can present accounts of the unjustified killings and maimings of black people, by police officers in the United States before an international panel of human rights experts. We will now begin the hearing in the case of Breonna Taylor. My name is Priscilla Ocen and I am the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over this hearing today is our commissioners, Sir Clare Roberts of Antigua and Hannibal Uwaifo of Nigeria. The witnesses for today’s hearing are Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the family; Lonita Baker, also an attorney for the family. And Tamika Palmer, the mother of Ms. Taylor. There will be 50 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify followed by a period of questions from the commissioners. I will call time at 30 and 45 minutes respectively. I apologize if that involves me interrupting you as you’re speaking. I’ll try to avoid interruptions as much as possible. Commissioners Roberts and Uwaifo, I now present to you our first witness. Attorney, Mr. Benjamin Crump. Mr. Crump. Can you confirm your name, please?
Benjamin Crump 01:54
Benjamin Crump. [somewhat inaudible]
Priscilla Ocen 01:56
And Mr. Crump,
Benjamin Crump 01:57
do you hear me?
Priscilla Ocen 02:03
Sorry, I am. I’m going to go ahead and ask you to confirm that. The testimony that you’ll provide to the commission today is true to the best of your knowledge and a belief
Benjamin Crump 02:18
I was waiting to take the oath.
Priscilla Ocen 02:23
I think I think your sound is a bit choppy. I’m
Benjamin Crump 02:28
It will be.
Priscilla Ocen 02:32
Yes, but it’s a bit. It’s a bit difficult. Mr. Crump, why don’t I go to your colleague and then I’ll come back to you as soon as hopefully we can get some of the sound issues worked out and go to Lonita Baker now.
Benjamin Crump 02:48
Can you hear me now?
Priscilla Ocen 02:51
Yes, I can hear you.
Benjamin Crump 02:53
Okay. I will go ahead and proceed. I’ll stay in a stationary position. Okay, if it please the court. Okay. [some inaudible]
Priscilla Ocen 03:01
Yes, you can go ahead now Mr. Crump.
Benjamin Crump 03:04
Thank you. I am attorney Ben Crump and along with attorney Lonita Baker, and attorney Sam Aguilar. We have the honor and the privilege of representing the family of Breonna Taylor, whose mother Tamika Palmer is also with us today. Malcolm X, said that the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. He said the most neglected person in America is the Black woman. He said the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. And that was said over 50 years ago. With the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor in the execution of a Louisville Metropolitan Police no-knock warrant raid, the question is, does Malcolm X words still ring true in America? Because oftentimes, when Black women are killed by police in America, they don’t get the same attention and recognition that even other men of color get when they’re killed by the police. Therefore, we look at the killing of Breonna Taylor in the sanctity of her home while they were executing this, we believe illegal, unnecessary, senseless, and we believe unconstitutional no-knock warrant, entering Ms. Taylor’s home, the fact that disproportionate number of these no knock warrants are executed against African Americans.
They are not breaking into white people’s homes at one o’clock in the morning and with their guns drawn, and therefore, we think that is a part of the pattern and practice of violating the Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures of Black people in America. But even worse, is the fact that Breonna Taylor, as tragic as it was when she was killed, it was just as tragic in the aftermath, and the cover up and the conspiracy to yet again justify the killing of a innocent Black woman. Now, my co-counsel attorney Lonita Baker’s going to get into a lot of the technical aspects and nuances of the killing of Breonna Taylor. She is one of the best lawyers in America working today. I think. When we think about how Breonna Taylor became one of the top news stories in America, it was because of the great efforts of my co counsels Lonita Baker and Sam Aguilar, and me doing what I do. But it also spoke to the fact that now people say enough is enough. We have Sandra Bland, we have Atatiana Jefferson. We have Natasha McKinley, we have Rekia Boyd, we have so many Black women who were killed in America. But yet no police officer was ever been held accountable for it. The Washington Post, a great newspaper in the United States of America issued an article that said in the last five years, there have been over 450 Black women killed by police in America. But yet, only four of those officers, not 4%. Only four of those officers have been charged, and only two of them have been convicted. And so this tells you why Breonna Taylor’s case was so important in the United States of America, because it spoke that Black lives matter. And Black women’s lives matter as well.
And I would be remiss if we didn’t talk just a minute about the fact, how they tried to conspire in the aftermath, on the night in question, to cover up the death of Breonna Taylor. How they tried to tell her mother that she was at the hospital. When they knew the whole time she was still in the apartment lying on the floor dead. How they tried to make her boyfriend Kenny Walker, who was there with his girlfriend Breonna, both of them. Young African Americans, neither one of them have been arrested. Neither one of them ever had criminal history. And he was a registered gun owner. And he sought to try to protect his home. To try to protect his woman and their lives from what they thought was a home invasion, they thought was an intruder. And unlike when white people in America say self defense, Kenny Walker, literally believe with everything in his heart and you don’t have to take our version of it. You can listen to the 911 tapes that have been submitted on the record where he is on the phone with the 911 operator saying someone broke into a home. They shot my girlfriend. Now if Kenny Walker thought this was the police who was executing a warrant at his home. Why would you call 911 for the police, if you thought the police were already there? He believed that these were intruders. And it’s so heartbreaking when you hear the tape of him saying “stay with me, Bree” is so heartbreaking when he says “don’t close your eyes, Bree.” I mean, it’s the essence of us begging for humanity in America as Black citizens and the fact that when the police came in there, they put the gun to this temple.
And he said, with his hands up, I thought it was a y’all were intruders, y’all were burglarizing us. He said that it was self defense. They did not accept his clear self defense. They arrested him. They took him to jail. And they were charging him with attempted murder of a police officer where he could have spent a substantial part of his life in prison if convicted. That tells you these two justice systems that exists in America, one that governs white America, and another that governs Black America. The fact that in his own home, a Black man and Black woman can’t say self defense when somebody that’s coming in, but when they shoot us on the street whether it’s Trayvon Martin, any number of African American citizens, Ahmaud Arbery, lynched for jogging while black. His killers also said it was self defense. And the police accept their narrative as the gospel and they are allowed to go home and sleep in their beds in peace at night after they kill Black and brown men and women. We have to have democratic governments help other democratic governments live up to the highest values and ideals of a democracy based on equal justice and dignity for all citizens. Breonna Taylor, was an EMT worker, Briana Taylor worked in the healthcare profession, Breonna Taylor was the best of us. And we have to say her name because Breonna Taylor’s life matters. And black women lives matter. And so we thank this tribunal for giving us this audience to talk about how it’s not just Black men who have been killed and marginalized in these extrajudicial killings, but it is also our Black women. I will now the first defer to my most able co counsel, Attorney Lonita Baker, Madam Chair, presiding judge, if you would address her.
Priscilla Ocen 12:39
Thank you very much, Mr. Crump for your your powerful introduction. commissioners, Roberts and whites who I would like to present to you now our second witness, Attorney Lonita Baker. Ms. Baker, can you confirm your name for the record, please?
Lonita Baker 12:56
Yes, Lonita Baker.
Priscilla Ocen 12:59
And Miss Baker, will you affirm that the statements and the testimony that you offer to the commission today is true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Lonita Baker 13:12
Priscilla Ocen 13:14
Please proceed with your statement.
Lonita Baker 13:17
Thank you, commissioners. When we discussed Breonna Taylor and the egregious acts that stole her life from us, we can’t start just on the night of March 13 of 2020. To do so would ignore the decades long tactics associated with gentrification and the war on drugs. Yes, you heard me correctly, gentrification. In 2019, the city of Louisville had its sights set on a block patch of land in West Louisville, which encompass houses on West Elliott Avenue. And to help clear the block of its of occupants of those houses, the city employed a newly and secretly formed unit called the place based investigations to to help clear individuals from those houses to determine those houses to be nuisances so that the city could take take ownership of the properties. The place based investigation at LMPD, and the city will tell you that statistics i’s what led the place based investigations, I’m going to refer to them as PBI from here on out, let PBI to Elliott Avenue, but the evidence doesn’t support that notion. Crime was not high on, there was, crime was not high on Elliott Avenue, such as to qualify the use of PBI. In the final quarter of 2019, PBI set its targets on Jamarcus Glover, a mid to low level drug dealer and they wanted to shut down his operation. He lived in a house on Elliott Avenue and beginning in August of 2019 through June of 2020. Mr. Glover was arrested four times by Louisville Metro Police department. This information is important for our purpose here today, because once LMPD determined that they would bring Mr. Glover down, they also made the decision that they would do so by any means necessary.
And this is when the PBI began to employ tactics that we’ve grown accustomed to see in in the war on drugs throughout America. LMPD officers began to criminalize any and every Black person that Jamarcus Glover came in contact with. One of those individuals was Breonna Taylor. Breonna had previously had an on again off again relationship with Jamarcus. But that relationship had ended in the months before Breonna’s death. In fact in the month leading, to be honest, in the month preceding Breonna’s death, she had had absolutely no contact with Mr. Glover and Breonna had decided that she would begin to build her future with Kenneth Walker. They have — her boyfriend who was with her on the night that she dad that attorney Crump talked about, who tried his best to protect her home, her and himself from intruders into the home on March 13. Because she felt safe, and as she once told Jamarcus on a recorded jail phone call, she was scared for him because of his interactions with the police. But that didn’t stop LMPD from inserting Breonna Taylor into its investigation through a combination of deceit and incompetence. This including obtaining a search warrant on Breonna’s phone, where presented it to the court as being Jamarcus’s phone. This included perjury to get a search warrant, the search warrant we now know took Breonna’s life on March 13, for Breonna’s apartment, and that search warrant they lied. They said that they had confirmation from the US Postal Inspector that Jamarcus Glover had been receiving illegal packet or suspicious packages to Breonna’s apartment.
After that information became public, the US Postal Inspector said no, that is not true. And one we never communicated with Louisville Metro Police Department and the only agency that asked about information on Breonna’s apartment and Jamarcus Glover, we informed them that he was not received, not just not receiving suspicious packages, but that he wasn’t receiving any packages to Breonna’s apartment. But in the search warrant, which a judge signed off on under the because the officer presented under oath that it was truthful, that he verified with the US Postal Inspector that Jamarcus Glover had been receiving suspicious packages. Without that information in that search warrant, a judge, that would not have been probable cause and a judge would not have signed off on it. The tactics also included having plans to go forward with the search while Breonna’s apartment because SWAT had already informed LMPD that it was too dangerous to execute the five to six warrants in their investigation onto Marcus Glover that they had planned to execute simultaneously.
This includes a failure to do a thorough and accurate briefing prior to executing the search warrant on Breonna’s home. The failure to monitor activities at Brianna’s apartment to know who was present at the time that was executed. It includes a failure to investigate the layout of Breonna’s apartment and the surrounding units of her apartment. It includes the decision to call off the search warrant, but then carry it out anyway. All of these failures occur before John Mattingly, Brett Hankinson, Miles Cosgrove, Tony James, Mike Campbell, Sean Hoover, and Mike Nobles ever first knocked on Brianna’s door in the wee hours of the morning of March 13 2020. I’m going to ask that the the 911 audio tape play before I continue what followed on March 13 2020.
Priscilla Ocen 19:03
Thank you, Ms. Baker. [911 recording plays.]
Lonita Baker 20:20
And so the 911 recording that you just listened to occurred in the aftermath of what happened after police officers entered Breonna’s apartment. They entered Breonna’s apartment banging Breonna awakened Breonna out of her sleep jerking. Kenneth awakens as well. They’re yelling, Who is it? Who is it? And I’ve been to those apartments, you can hear on the other side of the door. No one is responding. No one’s saying police. No one’s saying any names. There’s just not any response in in any response to Breonna’s calls to asking, who is it. As Breonna and Kenneth, you know rush to put on their clothes, get they approach the hallway, they exit Breonna’s bedroom, approach the hallway and as they get to the hallway, the door flies off the hinges were the police officers that used the battering ram to force open the door. In response to the door coming off the hinges, again they don’t know who it is, Kenneth fires a single gunshot. What happens after that single gunshot and it’s he said, since it’s in a downward motion, it’s a warning shot. Whoever’s got, his intent is whoever is coming in, the gunshot will scare them away. That was what he thought because again, he has no idea that these are Louisville Metro Police officers who are the intruders. In response to a single gunshot, Louisville Metro Police officers return over 32 rounds of fire never taking any breaks to reassess a threat to determine what the truth there is, never even truly acquiring a target, just blindly firing into Breonna’s apartment. When you go into the apartment, you see gunfire everywhere, you see bullets go through the walls of the kitchen. You see bullets in pots and pans, inside of food. You see them through walls and a toolbox. Barely missing a furnace. Who knows what type of reaction that, had the bullet been two centimeters over it would have hit the furnace. Hitting back going into bathrooms, hitting the shower. And of course hitting Breonna six times, killing her.
And then they retreated. And what you heard on, we hear the the agony in Kenneth’s voice, but it’s also important to notice what you do not hear during that 911 call. You do not hear anyone announcing themselves as police. You do not hear any sirens. You don’t hear any more gunfire at that point. In fact, they believed Kenneth Walker was inside dead is well. And it wasn’t until they received the dispatch that someone had called 911 inside that they begin to call for him to come out. That was why he was on the phone with Miss Palmer, because he called Miss Palmer as well. When Kenny goes out he announces he has his phone in his hand. They tell him to drop it. He reaches out because he does not want to be killed. He, in response to what happened again, even at that point, he did not know who had come into his home. He dropped his phone outside of the door so that he could put his hands up. And as they begin to tell him to come out, they have the dogs trained on them. They have machine guns trained on him, and he’s screaming. I didn’t know it was y’all.
You know if someone said you shot, you shot my partner, and Sergeant john Mattingly was shot that night. He claims he was shot in the he was shot in his femoral artery, he claims that happened while he was still in Breonna’s apartment. However, it’s important to note that inside Breonna’s apartment, the only blood evidence, that was the only blood that was in her apartment, was where Breonna lay and died. There was no no blood from any police officer inside of Breonna’s apartment or in the immediate hallway outside of Breonna’s apartment. It wasn’t until you get closer to the parking lot where the officers were that you saw any one else’s blood. As I said, Kenneth had called Tamika Palmer, Breonna’s mom before going outside. So she had rushed to get there. When she rushes to get there, before she can arrive. There’s tons of officers, as you hear her talk about the number of police officers and police cars that were there when she arrived. And she was asked, you know, you know, what are you doing and she said something happened at my daughter’s apartment, I need to get there.
They tell her that her daughter was taken to the hospital. They sent two ambulances, now one was the officer and one was the other person that was shot and so she rushed to the hospital. At the hospital, the emergency room personnel tell them that they do not have a record of Breonna Taylor she waits several hours before they say we don’t, you know we still don’t have a Breonna Taylor, we don’t even have any, any record of her being transported to the hospital. And so then she goes back to the home. It is not until almost 11 o’clock in the morning that she is notified that Breonna is still in the apartment. And at that point she realizes that her daughter has died and did not receive any medical attention, any medical assistance whatsoever.
The cover up after. There’s a police report, the original professional standards and Public Integrity unit investigation. The report says there’s no forced entry into Breonna’s home. They indicate that Breonna did not suffer any injuries. That’s it. That’s all that’s in the report is no forced entry, no injuries. However, she was shot six times and she died. But still they saw fit to put no injuries. For two, over two months. There was no true investigation into what happened to Breonna. The only thing that did happen was that Kenneth Walker was arrested for attempted murder of a police officer, again for firing a shot. A warning shot towards intruders, unknown intruders. Eventually, those charges against Kenneth Walker were dismissed without prejudice. But as we sit here today, and I’ll wrap up so that Miss Palmer can talk, as we sit here today, there’s been no officers charged directly with any offenses against Breonna Taylor, despite two officers being terminated from Louisville Metro Police Department, Brett Hankinson, who’s the only officer who has been charged with anything but he’s been charged with wanton endangerment, not for Breonna Taylor, but for the bullets that went into the neighboring apartment, not Breonna Taylor. Miles Cosgrove was recently terminated for what the police chief’s said outright was, he fired recklessly without regard to the safety of anyone in the apartment. He shot an innocent bystander because Breonna Taylor posed no threat to him. And because he fired throughout the home without any target acquisition.
He is responsible for firing over 16 rounds into Breonna’s apartment. And so he has been terminated but he has yet to be charged. No one’s been charged with the perjury included on this affidavit for the search warrant, to Breonna’s apartment. There is an ongoing federal investigation. But it should be noted that when the Attorney General of Kentucky presented charges to the Kentucky grand jury, he refused to present any charges for which the grand jurors could deliberate on behalf of Breonna Taylor, despite grand jurors asking for additional charges, he made the grand jury made the determination against Kentucky law, that he had the right to decide that the officers could not be charged when in his advisory capacity to the grand jury. Once they asked for those charges, they should have been delivered to the grand jury to deliberate on. Is the behavior the, one the use of dangerous no knock warrants, which is why Breonna’s not here, the thought process to bring drug dealers down in this war on drugs through it by any means necessary. And we see the tactics all the time, let’s bring in girlfriends, let’s bring in moms, let’s bring in friends, so that we can put pressure on this person that we want to apprehend. That has to stop. The qualified immunity, giving officers free rein to kill without any consequences whatsoever. That has to change. And that’s what we’re here for. We were, we did have the benefit of grand jurors being permitted to come forward and discuss what happened in the case, which is another reason why we know that justice did not prevail. When it comes to the state charges for Breonna Taylor, on behalf of Breonna Taylor, no one’s been charged with anything. And we’re continuing to push for a new prosecutor to be appointed. Independent investigations. We know the first two months there was no investigation. How much information did we lose during that two month period?
I will withhold further comment for questions as again, I do want Ms. Palmer to be able to address the commission. Again, I thank you for your time and taking this matter seriously. Thank you.
Priscilla Ocen 32:20
Thank you. Thank you, Miss Baker. Miss Palmer. I’d like to introduce you to our commissioners, Commissioners Roberts and Uwaifo. Our next witness is the mother of Breonna Taylor, Ms. Tamika Palmer. Miss Palmer, can you confirm your name for the record?
Tamika Palmer 32:43
It’s Tamika Palmer. I’m the mother of Breonna Taylor.
Priscilla Ocen 32:48
Thank you. And do you affirm that the statement, the testimony that you’re about to provide to our commission is true, to the best of your knowledge?
Tamika Palmer 33:02
Priscilla Ocen 33:05
Thank you very much, Ms. Palmer. Please, continue.
Tamika Palmer 33:11
Good morning. Thank you for inviting me into this space. The opportunity is heartfelt. I want to talk about who Breonna was, because most of us know what happened to her. And if you don’t, it’s because you’ve chosen not to at this point. Breonna was my first lesson that I learned in life. I say lesson because I was a child having a child. I was a child who quickly had to learn what being a single parent really meant. Not to say that I’ve never seen it before. My mother was a single mother raising us. But as a child, that wasn’t what we saw her as. I personally thought she was a super woman doing what women do. It wasn’t until I had Breonna, that I learned that women aren’t single mothers because they want to be, it’s because it’s a job through, for most of us. First lesson learned, but nevertheless, nothing I couldn’t manage. Breonna from birth, had a spirit about her a spirit that transformed her into an angel at such a young age. My whole family will tell you that. As a child, she was smart, courageous, and eager to help. She was easy breezy, my cousin used to say. As a teen she was fearless, bold, brave and determined, so much more than me or my family could have ever suspected. She aced those years with grace though. As a woman, she was fire and ice, a mix only she could mix. She was me, my mother, my sisters. She has some of my dad in her. And even my brothers, God forbid. She had family traits, scrapes, and bruises. She was then what we come to know her as, the queen. If she thought it, she did it. If she dreamed it, she went after it. If she wanted it, she got it. Her motto, wake, pray, slay, words she honored and lived by. So no never did I think I would have to fight this fight for her. And never would have thought something like this would even have happened to her. I don’t know why I’m surprised. I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m surprised. Police corruption is nothing new to us. But it’s definitely something I thought we as a family has steered her clear of. But I guess we’re never truly clear.
Because corruption can find us as it found her. 26 years of living her best life. The Breeway, as we all called it. For it all to be stolen in a moment’s time, by lies, deceit and corruption. By a system they keep telling us that it’s here to protect and serve us. It’s been a proven fact that that system has never protected nor served Black or brown people. Not to say that the system hasn’t failed other people, but it’s but let’s be clear, it’s us that it continues to fail. And it’s us that there is no accountability for, I like to I think it’s strange when people ask me, why is police reform so important to me? So let me explain what police reform is. Police reform aims to transform, transform the values culture, policies and practices of police organizations, so that the police can perform their duties with respect for democratic values, human rights, and the rules of law. So with that being said, it’s important to me because all over the nation the police are failing at that tiny statement that explains police reform. so easily. And most importantly, their actions have been, their actions have have not had enough accountability.
So when we ask, so when people ask, Where do me and my family go from here? I have to say the Queen Breonna has brought us here. And has given us a job to do not to just get justice for her, being murdered by LMPD. But to continue to stand and fight for the upcoming Breonna’s of the world. She lit a fire in US law. She made Black women lives more visible to the world. And now she’s being taken care of. Not just by my mother, but she’s inherited George Floyd, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Rayshard Brooks. And the list goes on and on, of people dying at the hands of a system that they keep telling us that is here to protect and serve us. Breonna was in one of the safest places in the world to be, she was home with the person she thought would protect her from the world. And he tried to do just that. With the laws that are given to us to protect and serve our kingdoms. And when that law was broken, there was no accountability for the people that broke that law, for the people who perjured themselves to obtain a warrant that put those people in motion that night, for Daniel Cameron who lied about the case he presented to the grand jury and getting justice for Bree. He never gave them the opportunity to charge the other officers, even when asked. So again, that’s why this is important to me. That’s why this is important to my family. And that’s why we continue to stand and fight. So thank you.
Priscilla Ocen 40:23
Thank you, Ms. Palmer. And I just want to extend my sincerest condolences that you did not get to see Breonna bloom into the woman that you knew she was becoming. I want to turn it over now to our commissioners, to ask their questions. We have about 10 minutes remaining. So I’ll turn it over to you all, Commissioner Roberts Commissioner Uwaifo.
Sir Clare Roberts 40:50
Thank you very much, Professor Ocen. I’d like to join Professor Ocen in offering my deepest sympathy on the passing of the, this, I said passing, but it’s this egregious killing of Breonna Taylor. Certainly one of the things you’re fighting for to have her name remembered, and that stands for something I think has been achieved. And that even with what we are doing here is to put an international spotlight on these police killings. So that as you say, you’re doing it not just for Breonna, but for that there be no other Breonna Taylor, that these police killings be eradicated. And so we want to commend you on that fight while we’re offering our condolences. The key thing seems to be the impunity, the lack of accountability. I noticed that there was a preponderance of force when they came to issue the warrant. I’m wondering if you could give us some insight as to why, when calls have been answered, involving Black people that there is this preponderance of force we meet there. There were machine guns, over seven officers, dogs. In a hearing we had earlier some 11 to 25 policemen came to the scene of what was a traffic stop? What why is it that found necessary by the police departments to answer calls with this preponderances of force?
Sir Clare Roberts 42:42
Yes, go ahead, Mr. Crump. Go ahead.
Benjamin Crump 43:09
I could answer generally. And then attorney Baker will answer to the specific to the night in Louisville, Kentucky when Breonna was killed. We believe that the law courts have been complicit in this intellectual justification of discrimination. When we talk about self defense, stand your ground laws that make it allowable to kill Black bodies, because they are somehow perceived to be more dangerous. We go back to New York state but now I get on the subway, where he shot three young black men paralyzed and one of them, and in the New York Superior Court they upheld the law that race can be considered a factor as to whether you have a subject of fear. Literally, they said that Black people can be considered more dangerous than white people. And so when police come in our communities, they overpolice, our communities. And it leads to things happening that don’t happen in other communities. They use excessive force unnecessarily on Back women and girls to a much higher degree than they use white women and white girls. And so I think Breonna was, you know, a microcosm of all this overpolicing, implicit bias and system and pattern of structural and institutional racism that exists in policing in America. I defer to attorney Baker.
Lonita Baker 44:53
One of the things that’s alarming is that police officers seem to forget about their deescalation training when dealing with Black and brown citizens. We know that they know how to de escalate because we see them do so when dealing with white people. They just don’t have that same fear of white people that for some reason they have against Black people. What we know about in Breonna’s case is that officers completely disregarded their training when they returned so much fire in response to one gunshot. The SWAT unit has talked about how egregious the return, LMPD SWAT, so within the same department when they arrived at the scene, and when the SWAT commander was interviewed by PIU, he said that it was a complete lapse in judgment. It was a complete lapse in training that they use to execute search warrants and to return fire and to respond to situations like that. They fired without due regard to who was in the apartment, it’s by the grace of God that Tamika’s other daughter was not home. She lived with Breonna Taylor at that time, and when we talk about how much gunfire was sprayed into Breonna’s apartment, most of that gunfire hit, entered into Tamika’s youngest daughter Ju’Nayah’s bedroom. And so had she been home, Tamika very well would have lost two children that day. Not only that, typically, Breonna and Ju’Niyah had a small child that would be at the house with them, a two year old child. Had that child been there, that child could have been seriously harmed. And this is when I talked about the lack of investigation into who is normally at Breonna’s home, the layout of Breonna’s. Police officers went to the around the building thinking that the back of the apartment, or the back of the building also included Breonna’s apartment. Because bullets had gone into that apartment, they start to yell at the family in that home, thinking that they were a part of Breonna’s apartment to get down on the ground. A five year old – a bullet, you know, entered the bedroom of a five year old child in that next apartment. So it’s the lack of training and due regard. Even when you talk to experts, they say what should have happened in this situation if they wanted to return fire in response to Kenneth’s single gunshot. At most, at first, they should have fired twice, retreated, reassessed the threat, they never took time to reassess the threat. And again, this is the it’s not that they’re not trained to do that. It’s that they choose not to do it when it’s Black and brown individuals. And that’s what has to change in America. We see them do it with white communities, they can do the exact same with black communities.
Priscilla Ocen 47:51
Thank you, Attorney Baker. We are just at about time. So I’m going to ask Commissioner Uwaifo if he has a question that he might pose to our witnesses, and that will, unfortunately be our last question and response. And then we will
Hannibal Uwaifo 48:13
Thank you very much. The question I wanted to ask is, does the police commit perjury in the United States? Because we’ve seen situations where, you know, the police have obtained warrants under very false circumstances, swearing to false oaths. I was wondering whether it’s not an offence or it’s not a crime in the US. Secondly, Mrs. Palmer, I want to come through with your issue to the African Bar Association. And you said police reform. I’m just wondering whether you mean, a total overhaul of the entire justice system United States. If you say it’s police reform, what about the role of the prosecutor? What about the role of the judges or about the role of institutions and all the officers who are who are deliberately, you know, avoiding liabilities or regulatory visit to their property? Is this police reform, you know, or is this not a terribly skewed system against the Black community judging by what happens. I just thought you should look at it, why it’s good to campaign for police reform, but will that really get to the soul of the problem. Thank you.
Priscilla Ocen 49:49
Go ahead, go ahead.
Benjamin Crump 49:51
I was going to try to answer quickly [inaudible]
Priscilla Ocen 50:04
Mr. Crump, I’m sorry to interrupt but your sound is —
Benjamin Crump 50:13
I defer to attorney Baker.
Priscilla Ocen 50:16
Thank you very much, Attorney Baker.
Lonita Baker 50:18
I think what attorney Crump and Miss Palmer both and myself, we would definitely agree with the commissioner that it is a full criminal justice system needs reform, I think at the heart of Miss Palmer’s statement that she was talking about police reform, it came after she had already talked about the failures of the prosecutor Daniel Cameron, the prosecutor. And attorney Crump and myself talked about the role of the courts and granting qualified immunity. So it is a system wide change that needs to be had. But we also have to start with just the premise of over policing, Black and brown communities criminalizing Black and brown communities, the extent to which we will go into war on the so called war on drugs, and how we’ve been taught how America has treated the two different wars on drugs. We see the the arrest and put away of Black people when it came to crack and cocaine. But then as we’re as heroin is invading more white communities, there’s a shift to thinking of rehabilitation. Where was the rehabilitation when our communities were being force fed with crack and cocaine? So it’s those things and it is an all encompassing reform. And that’s what we look forward to working with this commission to fix.
Priscilla Ocen 51:48
Thank you very much. And before we conclude, I wanted to turn it over to Commissioner Roberts, he wanted to make some observations about some recent news involving Black Lives Matter and international acknowledgement. You’re muted, Commissioner.
Sir Clare Roberts 52:09
Yes, thank you, Professor ocean. I just wanted to mention that part of putting the spotlight, giving international spotlight to the racial discrimination in the United States is the fact that Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its global impact in raising awareness and consciousness of the social injustice, the racial injustice in the United States. I just wanted to put that in very quickly for the record this time.
Priscilla Ocen 52:51
Thank you very much, Commissioner Roberts. Unfortunately, we have used all of our time, and the remarks from the commissioner are a good place for us to stop. So that will conclude the hearing in the case of Breonna Taylor, we want to thank our witnesses. Mr. Benjamin Crump Attorney for the family of Breonna Taylor, Attorney, Lonita Baker, also an attorney for the family. And of course, we want to give our deepest gratitude and sincerest condolences to the mother of Breonna Taylor, Ms. Tamika Palmer. They’ve also Kerry McLean who helped to coordinate our hearing today and our two commissioners, Commissioner Hannibal Uwaifo and Commissioner Sir Clare Roberts. Again, this concludes our hearing, but it will not conclude our efforts to continue lifting up the name of Breonna Taylor. So we thank you all for your work and your advocacy. And that concludes our hearing.