• Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

Louisville federal buildings close as city awaits state findings on Breonna Taylor

The U.S. district courthouse in Louisville, Kentucky, and at least one other federal building are closing for the week starting Monday as the city waits for a possible announcement by the state attorney general on the Breonna Taylor investigation.

Federal officials have not announced why the courthouse and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office are closing. But the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that a courthouse official said that building is closing in anticipation of an announcement.

The federal courthouse is not far from a downtown park that has been a base for protests over Taylor’s death, according to NBC affiliate WAVE in Louisville.

An order signed Friday by Chief Judge Greg Stivers said the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse & Custom House will be closed to the public from Sept. 21 to 25, at the request of the federal General Services Administration, which manages the building.

“All matters scheduled for in-court appearances during this time period shall be continued or converted to videoconference proceedings, at the discretion of the presiding judge,” the order reads.

The city’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office will also be closed during that time period. A notice on its website says that the closure is “due to a court order.”

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot and killed in her home on March 13 as police officers with a no-knock warrant broke down her door seeking evidence in a narcotics investigation. The target of the probe did not live at the location.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot at the front door, striking one officer, according to police. Walker said he believed it was a home invasion. Officers opened fire, hitting Taylor five times.

State Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office has been investigating the case since May, and as of last week was preparing to present evidence to a grand jury, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Once the grand jury makes a decision, Cameron is expected to make a public announcement to share his office’s investigative findings and the grand jury’s decision on possible indictments for the three officers who fired their weapons that night.

One of the officers has been terminated for displaying “an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired ten rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor,” according to his termination letter posted to the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Twitter account.

The two other officers who fired their weapons have been put on administrative leave by the police department.

Cameron has declined to offer specifics on the status of the case and did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

“When the investigation concludes and a decision has been made, we will provide an update about an announcement,” he said in a recent statement. “The news will come from our office and not unnamed sources. Until that time, the investigation remains ongoing.”

A grand jury of a dozen citizens is seated each month in Louisville and tasked with deciding on whether to bring charges on 15 to 20 cases per day. But the presentation of the Taylor case is expected to last a few days, according to the sources familiar with the matter.

In order to indict any of the three officers who fired shots on the night of Taylor’s death, nine jurors must decide that there is “sufficient” evidence to believe a crime was committed, according to a source familiar with the process in Kentucky.

The local prosecutor, Tom Wine, recused himself from the case on May 22, handing it off to Cameron, who was designated as a special prosecutor.

On Tuesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the city had reached a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family over her killing.

He described Taylor’s death as a tragedy and noted that it had been 186 days since she was killed.

“Her death has ignited a movement in Louisville, in the nation, for racial justice, sending thousands into our streets and cities all across the country and the world,” he said. “All crying out for justice for Breonna.”

“While we await a decision from Attorney General Daniel Cameron on whether or not charges will be filed in this case, my administration is not waiting to move ahead with needed reforms to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again,” Fischer said.