Mayor Fischer, Police Chief Conrad call for FBI and U.S. Attorney review of Breonna Taylor investigation
Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad today announced that they had requested the FBI and the U.S. Attorney to review the findings of the LMPD Public Integrity Unit’s investigation into the Breonna Taylor case, once it is complete.
“My priority is always that the truth comes out,” said Mayor Fischer. “That’s why my administration has requested a thorough review of the investigation currently underway, and why I am committed to a process that restores trust in our police and community relations.”
Chief Conrad noted that, “The investigation into the critical incident resulting in Breonna Taylor’s death is nearly complete. In addition to the review by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney, the findings of the investigation will go to Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office will review it, since Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine has recused himself.”
The announcement came during a Facebook tele town hall with Louisville Metro Government Chief of Equity Kendall Boyd and LMPD Majors Paul Humphrey and Jamey Schwab to discuss police and community relations and the investigation of the Breonna Taylor case.
“We can be transparent with the people of our city,” said the Mayor. “And we can and we must also talk about the relationship between our police and our communities of color: past, present and future.”
The Mayor and Chief Boyd acknowledged the relationship between police and communities of color is challenging for every American city. “It’s a history we must lean into – the proud moments and the painful,” said the Mayor. “And a history whose lessons we have to learn in order to move forward together in times like this that are very challenging.”
At the same time, the Mayor said “We have to acknowledge the self-evident truth that public safety is the most essential function of city government and national government. And it’s difficult, dangerous work. The men and women of our police force put their lives on the line every day and night. And police officers sometimes have to make split-second, life-or-death decisions with incomplete information.”
Major Schwab noted that there are many steps in the investigative process, particularly in the case of an officer-involved shooting. In this case, a Public Integrity Unit (PIU) investigation began on March 13, 2020, the date of the incident at Breonna Taylor’s home. The PIU investigation is expected to wrap up in the coming weeks.
Schwab said the PIU is responsible for all criminal investigations, not only LMPD personnel, but any Metro Government employee. “Our investigators are impartial fact-gatherers, who pull together all the evidence that may exist for the case,” he said. “This includes interviews with witnesses, interviews with involved officers, collecting forensic exams, various reports and uncovering any evidence, no matter how small. Involved officers are interviewed by PIU and are treated the same as anyone else in a criminal investigation – afforded their Miranda rights; they have the right to legal counsel. There’s no difference in the way the officers are interviewed.”
In addition to the PIU investigation, there is additional oversight from the LMPD Professional Standards Unit and the Citizen’s Commission on Police Accountability. Both parties review the incident, ensure policies and procedures are followed and make recommendations to the Mayor and the Chief.
“We don’t want to rush things. We want to make sure we do it right,” said Schwab.
The Mayor noted that, “One reason the news of this case hits people so hard is because it reopens old wounds – the history of racism and the mistreatment of people of color in our community. This is an unfortunate reality of the history of America that we need to understand and lean into.”
This is part of our history that is being explored through the Mayor’s Lean Into Louisville initiative and efforts like the Synergy Project, which fosters dialogue between citizens and police officers so they can better understand each other’s points of view.
“History has shown that the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement is strained and broken,” said Chief Boyd. “In order to address this history, we’ve put together the Synergy Project to have constructive dialogue. Everybody gets to say their truth.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, roughly 400 people throughout the community had participated in the Synergy sessions. Another 25 sessions have been postponed due to the pandemic. Virtual sessions are being planned and will be announced on www.Leanintolouisville.org.
As part of today’s discussion, Major Humphrey discussed LMPD training. “Training begins at recruit level, understanding police officers and the community are equal stakeholders,” he said. “We work with all officers on de-escalation techniques and understanding cultural issues.”
Humphrey emphasized that LMPD is part of the community. “We want to work with the community to solve problems, to achieve a favorable outcome. LMPD plays both roles – we are a protector of the community and a friend to the community.”
The Mayor closed the town hall by recognizing the gut-wrenching situation and frustration families go through when they’ve lost a loved one. “Our goal is to make sure the facts get out and we will continue to communicate on this case as we can.”
To watch a replay of the town hall, visit https://www.facebook.com/MayorGregFischer/videos/237512334339891/