Mayor Fischer’s statement on the Breonna Taylor case

May 13, 2020

Mayor Fischer’s statement on the Breonna Taylor case:

Let me start by emphasizing that any loss of life is a tragedy.

And, I also want to recognize that police work is very difficult.

In these types of tragic situations, people always want quick answers, and they think the answers should be easy to get– but there’s usually no easy answers in complicated situations like this. 

There are a lot of steps in this process, in situations involving an officer-involved shooting.

In this case, LMPD held a press conference about the incident at Breonna Taylor’s home the day it happened, providing all the possible details and personnel files of the officers involved. A video of that press conference is on the LMPD Facebook page.

Because a Public Integrity Unit (PIU) investigation was begun that day, we have not commented further; it’s not appropriate because of potential litigation.

The PIU handles all police shooting cases; their investigations typically take a few months, so there’s nothing unusual about this one in terms of the time.

This investigation started on March 13, 2020; that was the date of the incident at Breonna Taylor’s home. And the PIU team expects to be wrapping this up in the coming weeks. Chief Conrad certainly understands that this is a priority.

Next, the case will be submitted to the Commonwealth’s Attorney to determine potential prosecution. 

If Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine does not pursue charges, or once a potential case is over, the matter is handed over for review by the Professional Standards Unit, which could then lead to discipline from the Chief, if that is deemed appropriate. 

My office has been in conversation with Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine’s office. I understand he will be recusing himself from this case, as he has a conflict – he is handling prosecution of the person who is charged in the shooting of Officer Jonathan Mattingly during the incident.

He has notified the Attorney General’s office of his recusal. My office will be reaching out to the Attorney General’s office to discuss next steps. I have also been in touch with the Governor and will be reaching out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office about this matter.

We all want to get to the same place, to get to the truth as quickly as we possibly can. It is possible that an independent investigation could be called for, as I have done in the past. My administration has always been open to review, and if that is called for, we will absolutely cooperate.

I just want to emphasize that I represent the people of Louisville, I do not represent any special interest group, I do not represent any specific department or  agency. My priority is simply the truth. Getting to the truth and let justice follow that.

As for civilian review, there are three levels of that which already exist:

First, as Mayor, I have the power to initiate an investigation. I have demonstrated before that I will do that, and I will do it again if I have to.   

Second is the Police Merit Board, which has the power to make decisions over hiring, firing, promotions and discipline.   

And third is the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability, which conducts reviews to advise the Mayor and the Chief on the adequacy and quality of investigations and may recommend changes in police policy, training and procedures. 

And I’m going to continue this conversation over the coming days to see if there are other ways to include civilian review; other cities around the nation have worked on this with varying degrees of success.

But there are broader issues to consider here. Policing, as I’ve said, is a dangerous and unpredictable profession where split second decisions are often required. And, we have to recognize the historically difficult relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. 

Like communities across the nation, Louisville unfortunately has these challenges. We have been leaning into those challenges over the years, and we’ll continue to do so. We’ve always got to work on police and community relations. You do not sweep this underneath the rug. It is reality.

That is why we’ve been working on it and will continue to do so, knowing it’s essential for us to do that to build trust in our community. That trust is necessary for all of our opportunities to flourish. Everybody has the right to that.

And I just ask people to trust that as all of this comes together, you have my total commitment to transparency in the process. And again, I just want to say when any loss of life takes place in this community, it’s a very tragic day.