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Louisville Police Representative Discusses Breonna Taylor Case


There are no direct charges against police in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Prosecutors said officers fired in self-defense. The one indictment of Brett Hankison was for recklessly firing into another apartment during the raid on Breonna Taylor's home. The grand jury's finding means no criminal charges can be pursued. Of course, there have been protests around the country. Two Louisville officers were shot during demonstrations there. They are recovering.

Ryan Nichols is president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614, which represents Louisville police, and joins us now. Thanks for being with us.

RYAN NICHOLS: Thank you, sir.

SIMON: Breonna Taylor was an innocent public servant, a medical technician, shot in her own apartment. Let's ask you to listen to what one Louisville protester, Arvel Collins (ph), said to one of our reporters on the street.

ARVEL COLLINS: (Unintelligible). Black people go to jail every day for the [expletive] they do. The police don't go to jail for [expletive] they do. But we out here for what's right.

SIMON: Can you see, sir, why Breonna Taylor's family and so many people around the country are outraged and hurt?

NICHOLS: Yes, I can understand the hurt that comes from the tragic loss of anyone.

SIMON: Well, would you be in favor of the grand jury transcripts being made public?

NICHOLS: I am in favor of - I believe the attorney general conducted a thorough and unbiased investigation, and I believe he is still proceeding with a criminal prosecution for one officer. Obviously, we can't speak further about that because of that further criminal prosecution.

We believe it's important to remind everyone that that officer is innocent until proven guilty and should be afforded the rights of due process, like every American citizen. And I feel the attorney general will make those decisions based on the law here in Kentucky and what he feels is appropriate to do in this specific case.

SIMON: But I have to ask. You say the attorney general conducted a fair and full investigation. All you really know about it is what the - the finding of the grand jury and what he said. How do you know it was a fair and full investigation if the transcripts are not made public?

NICHOLS: We do believe that, in fact, the Louisville Metro Police Department Public Integrity Unit was conducting a thorough investigation prior to turning that investigation over to the attorney general. We have faith that the attorney general executed the duties of his office in a fair and unbiased manner and the process is occurring as the law allows it to occur.

SIMON: The city of Louisville is paying a settlement of $12 million to Breonna Taylor's family. Does that suggest to you that the case against the conduct of these officers, once it's made public, might be very imposing, indeed?

NICHOLS: The city chooses to do - how the city chooses to settle cases in different times is completely up to the mayor. This case was settled prior to the decision of the grand jury coming out. That's within the mayor's purview to do that. I can't speak as to why specifically he chose to do that at that time.

SIMON: Two officers, as I don't have to tell you - Louisville officers are shot on Wednesday. They're recovering. Have the actions of the officers who conducted the raid in which Breonna Taylor was shot five times and received no medical attention for more than 20 minutes made it difficult to be a police officer in Louisville now and to be trusted by the public whom you serve?

NICHOLS: There are issues of trust from the community here in Louisville. I believe those officers, as the attorney general stated, were executing a lawfully signed search warrant at the location on that warrant. They were met with gunfire immediately upon entry into that residence and have a right by Kentucky law...

SIMON: By somebody who - by somebody who had no reason to necessarily think they were police and thought it was an intruder, right?

NICHOLS: Well, that would be determined by that investigation because the police have maintained that they did knock and announce themselves as police. And as the attorney general stated, he presented evidence from other witnesses that that did occur as well. And being immediately met with gunfire, they have the right by Kentucky state law to defend themselves.

I understand there are protests going on across our city, and the city has some issues of trust. And peaceful protest is supported by law enforcement. That's a First Amendment right. We cherish that.

SIMON: Ryan Nichols, president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614. Thanks very much for being with us, sir. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.