Despite defending the no-knock search warrant that led to the police killing of Breonna Taylor, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron this week convened a panel that he said he hoped would make the state “a national model for search warrants.”
Cameron, a vilified figure widely blamed for sabotaging the grand jury that decided against holding Louisville Metro Police Department officers accountable for Taylor’s death, presided over the recently formed Search Warrant Task Force at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green on Tuesday, according to local news outlet WNKY.
It appeared to be quite the conflict of interest for Cameron, who blamed everyone imaginable for Taylor’s death except the officers who blindly fired a hail of bullets into the 26-year-old’s apartment while wielding a no-knock warrant in search of someone who was already in police custody.
It was in that context that Cameron on Tuesday wanted people to believe he had a genuine interest in reforming all aspects of search warrants in Kentucky even though he was perfectly fine with the execution of the no-knock warrant that enabled Louisville cops to shoot a total of 32 bullets first and ask questions later.
“Hopefully, my judgment is, Kentucky be a national model for search warrants, and I think what you’ve seen here in this meeting, and the previous meetings as well, is an effort to make sure that that happens, whether being the conversations, questions asked or presentations that have been provided,” Cameron said Tuesday. “So that’s ultimately my goal and I know that members of this task force share that same sentiment.”
To be sure, Cameron has tried to defend the police’s botched execution of the fateful no-knock warrant, pointing to one single witness who claimed he or she heard police announce themselves and knock while not lending any credence to at least a dozen other witnesses who said they didn’t hear anything before bullets rang out.
Adding insult to literal injury, Cameron during his press conference nearly one year ago suggested that Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, is to blame for her death. Walker said he suspected burglars when he heard someone at the apartment door. When it was pushed in off the hinges, Walker got his legally permitted gun and fired a shot toward the door that hit Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly. Therefore, Cameron concluded, “Mattingly and [detective Myles Cosgrove] were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker.”
Cameron even said there was no conclusive evidence that Hankison, who shot 10 rounds from outside a sliding glass door and through a bedroom window, fired the single bullet that killed Taylor.
To be sure, no-knocks warrants — which were reportedly discussed during Tuesday’s meeting — have a deadly history of not only going wrong but also being disproportionately used against Black suspects.
Experts say that many times no-knock warrants allow law enforcement to legally raid private property without warning and typically target Black, brown and poor people, resulting in civil rights lawsuits and in some cases prompting police departments to abandon the controversial practice.
It was also unclear whether the so-called Search Warrant Task Force revisited the topic of judges’ roles authorizing search warrants. With the warrant for Taylor’s apartment, neither the police nor the judge who signed the “no-knock” warrant did their due diligence despite theoretically being well aware of the deadly consequences in which those warrants can many times result.
In Taylor’s case, the cops — in search of a suspected drug dealer who was already in custody — raided the wrong location, and the actual suspected “trap house” was 10 miles away from her home.
This is America.