Gov. Cuomo: ‘Breonna Taylor’s death was murder’

State News

NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — During a coronavirus briefing Thursday in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed how he felt about the Breonna Taylor case. A transcript of the governor’s remarks is available below:

“Breonna Taylor’s death. Breonna Taylor’s death was murder. People were outraged. Yes, because it’s outrageous. If a person was murdered, then there’s a murderer, right? That’s how it works. And, the underlying police action should never have happened in the first place. We at least have to learn from these horrific situations, and God forbid anything like that happened in this state.

“June 12th, I announced an executive order because we understand this situation now. And I announced that every jurisdiction must come up with a plan that reimagines their public safety function. And they must pass it into law by April 1 or they won’t receive funding from the State of New York. There is no greater sanction. None of these jurisdictions can survive without funding from the State of New York. April 1 coincides with our budget date. We’re now October. Why? Because they have to acknowledge and resolve the tensions that are there. And that’s not going to happen unless you have a quote unquote collaborative, which means put everyone at the table, raise the concerns, and resolve them.

“Because this is not Breonna Taylor or George Floyd. It has been going on for decades and decades. You may have reached the point of boiling where people are just saying I’m not going to take it anymore. But it has been going on for decades. It’s not going to go away on its own. And there’s real tension between the community and the police. Everybody knows it, everybody feels it. What do you think? It’s going to resolve automatically? What are you, the Trump theory on COVID? It’ll magically disappear. It’ll be gone by Easter. The president was in denial about COVID. I believe he was actually lying about COVID. But, lying, denial does not work. These tensions are not going to go away until you resolve them.

“‘Well, the police feel this. Well, the community feels this. Well, the police feel this, the community feels this.’ I know. I know. Not resolving them helps no one. They just fester, and actually they get worse. The more they fester, the worse it gets. And that’s what you’re seeing. And then it explodes every time you have an instant. The goal here is to learn and change, right. Progressive city, progressive state, what does that mean? It means yes, we go through bad things, but we take these situations as an opportunity to change and to progress. That’s what we try to do.

“Reverend Sharpton: Demonstration, organize the public spirit so you can make change with legislation, and then you get to reconciliation. The public outrage is to motivate the body politic so the government makes change. It’s not demonstration for the sake of demonstration. It’s not demonstration as event, as a catharsis. It’s demonstration to express to government, we have to change. And I know it’s the status quo, and I know it’s hard, but government, we have to change. That’s the point of the demonstration. Otherwise it’s a pointless effort that only makes people more upset and more tense. There’s a productive point in protest, which is so that government gets the message. Okay, we got the message. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, we got the message. Alright.

“Now make the progressive change. That’s where we’re at. They weren’t doing it. I said you have to or you don’t get any state money. 146 jurisdictions in this state have already sat down at the table and started the reimagining process. 146 jurisdictions. They have started. Starting is good because once you start to talk about it, that’s the first step. You’re putting people at the table, you’re talking about it rather than throwing stones, rather than throwing bricks, rather than being destructive, rather than being frustrated, that’s good. That’s good. Do it, start. By the way, you need a plan by April anyway. It has to be passed into law, which means you have to go through the legislative body, you have to go through the city council. That’s going to take time. You need it by April 1, you have to start now anyway. And now is the time to do it. If you don’t do it, everybody gets hurt.”

Officials plead for calm amid anger over Breonna Taylor case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Authorities pleaded for calm while activists vowed to fight on Thursday in Kentucky’s largest city, where a gunman wounded two police officers during anguished protests following the decision not to charge officers for killing Breonna Taylor.

Outrage over a grand jury’s failure to bring homicide charges against the officers who burst into the Black woman’s apartment six months ago set off a new round of demonstrations Wednesday in several American cities. The state attorney general said the investigation showed officers were acting in self-defense when they responded to gunfire from Taylor’s boyfriend.

Though protests in Louisville began peacefully, officers declared an unlawful assembly after they said fires were set in garbage cans, several vehicles were damaged and stores were broken into. A 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with firing multiple gunshots at police and wounding two officers.

“Violence will only be a source of pain, not a cure for pain,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Many see Breonna Taylor’s case as both the tragic death of a young woman and the continuation of a long pattern of devaluation and violence that Black women and men face in our country, as they have historically.”

“The question obviously is: What do we do with this pain?” the mayor asked. “There is no one answer, no easy answer to that question.”

Activists, celebrities and everyday Americans have been calling for charges against police since Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by white officers after one of them was fired upon and wounded while conducting a raid in a narcotics investigation in March.

The officers had a no-knock warrant, but the investigation showed they announced themselves before entering, said state Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The warrant was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.

Along with George Floyd, a Black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Taylor’s name became a rallying cry during nationwide protests this summer that called attention to entrenched racism and demanded police reform.

Activists said they would press on with their calls for justice after a single officer was charged Wednesday with wanton endangerment for shooting into apartments neighboring Taylor’s.

“In our distress, we reaffirm our dedication to the eradication of systemic racism in our city,” the group Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice said in a statement. “We will keep showing up, speaking up, and joining the movement for systemic change led by Black people.”

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted Taylor’s name and marched in cities Wednesday including New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon. People gathered in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park, chanting demands for justice as drivers on Michigan Avenue honked their horns. Police in Atlanta used chemical agents and made arrests after some protesters tried to climb on a SWAT vehicle. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, marchers peacefully blocked highway traffic.

In Louisville, Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the two officers shot during protests were “doing well and will survive their injuries.”

Maj. Aubrey Gregory, a Louisville officer for more than 20 years, was shot in the hip and was treated and released from the hospital. Officer Robinson Desroches, who joined the force 18 months ago, was shot in the abdomen and underwent surgery. Schroeder said he was in stable condition.

Larynzo D. Johnson, 26, was charged in the shootings with two counts of assault on a police officer and multiple charges of wanton endangerment of police officers. An arrest citation said police had video of Johnson shooting at officers as they tried to disperse a crowd. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the violence in his home state and called the officers’ shootings acts of “despicable cowardice that must be met with the full force of the law.”

Taylor’s case has exposed the wide gulf between public opinion on justice for those who kill Black Americans and the laws under which those officers are charged, which regularly favor police and do not often result in steep criminal accusations.

A grand jury returned three charges of wanton endangerment against fired officer Brett Hankison. No charges were brought against the other officers involved.

Each of the charges Hankison faces carries a sentence of up to five years. David Leightty, Hankison’s attorney, did not return calls requesting comment Wednesday and Thursday. But when Hankison was fired in June, Leightty wrote an appeal to the Louisville Police Merit Board, calling the officer’s firing a “cowardly political act.”

Carmen Jones has protested in downtown Louisville every day for nearly three months. She said she feels despair after the grand jury’s decision and doesn’t know what’s coming.

“We’re tired of being hashtags. We’re tired of paying for history in our blood and our bodies and being told to respond to this violence and aggression with peace,” she said. “We did it the Martin way for the entire summer, and it got us nowhere. Maybe it’s time to do things the Malcolm way.”

The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in connection with the raid at Taylor’s home.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for Taylor’s family, denounced the grand jury decision as “outrageous and offensive.”

President Donald Trump read a statement from Cameron, saying “justice is not often easy.” He later tweeted that he was “praying for the two police officers that were shot.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, called for policing reform. Biden said the country should start by addressing excessive force, banning chokeholds and overhauling no-knock warrants.

Last week, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.

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