Health Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear used his daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday to condemn the shooting of two Louisville Metro Police officers and field other questions about ongoing protests in downtown.

A grand jury’s decision to charge former LMPD Brett Hankison with three felony counts of wanton endangerment, while opting not to charge officers Jonathan Mattingly or Myles Cosgrove, led to large demonstrations in Louisville on Wednesday. The day of protests ended with more than 127 arrests and two police officers shot and wounded.

Beshear said he spoke on the phone with LMPD Maj. Aubrey Gregory and the family of officer Robinson Desroches, the two officers shot, after returning to the Capitol following the grand jury announcement. Gregory has been released from the hospital, and Desroches is stable and recovering after undergoing surgery.

“I condemn this act of violence in the most stark terms,” Beshear said. “It is absolutely wrong. The answer to violence can never be violence. We want to make sure these individuals that were out there last night and will be out there again tonight are safe. And we need to ensure that any type of activity or demonstrations remain nonviolent and remain peaceful.”

To ensure safety at protests, Beshear called on participants to encourage those around them to refrain from destructive behaviors. He noted that it only takes one person to “do things the wrong way” and change the trajectory of demonstrations.

But Beshear said he does sympathize with the frustration felt by demonstrators. He says Kentuckians are owed transparency from Attorney General Daniel Cameron on his investigation into Taylor’s death. 

Beshear said he does not think that releasing certain aspects of the criminal investigation would interfere with ongoing federal civil rights probes.

“At this point, with the attorney general saying he is not pursuing certain things, then I believe it makes it appropriate to provide the facts, the information and the evidence,” he said. “It’s about trust in the people of Kentucky. I trust them, that if they have all the facts, the evidence and maybe some explanation if needed that they can process it. I know the attorney general talks about the truth, and I talk about the truth. I think we ought to let the people of Kentucky see all of that, evaluate, and come to the truth.”

Other high-profile police shootings have seen investigators release additional information, Beshear said. The former attorney general and prosecutor said transparency is always a positive thing.

“I’ve seen firsthand that when you’re willing to be transparent with the people of Kentucky, they will look at the information,” Behsear said. “They will try to understand the decisions you’ve made. They may disagree, but at least it’s not a vacuum where different emotions or theories or others can come into play.”

Beshear also announced 745 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to more than 64,000. A total of 1,137 Kentuckians have died from the disease after 13 new deaths were reported Thursday.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.