Attorney General Daniel Cameron has created a task force to review Kentucky’s search warrant policies in the wake of the Breonna Taylor shooting.
The announcement comes more than 10 months after Louisville police shot and killed Taylor in her apartment while executing a search warrant related to a drug investigation. No drugs or cash were found at the apartment.
Cameron said the task force fulfills a promise he made “to develop best practices for the effective and safe execution of search warrants.”
“We’ve assembled a group representing every aspect of the search warrant process to conduct a top to bottom review and provide recommendations. Our goal is to establish Kentucky as a national model for how search warrants should be pursued and executed,” Cameron said in a statement.
Cameron, a Republican, made that promise on Sept. 23, the day he announced that none of the officers involved in the raid on Taylor’s apartment would be criminally charged for her death. Detective Brett Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment for firing his weapon into a neighboring apartment.
Louisville Metro Police fired Hankison last summer and two other officers involved in the raid earlier this month—Myles Cosgrove, who fired the fatal bullet, according to the FBI, and Joshua Jaynes, who obtained the warrant for Taylor’s home.
Jaynes is accused of falsifying parts of the affidavit used to obtain that warrant, including falsely claiming that a postmaster confirmed Taylor was receiving suspicious packages.
A federal investigation into the fatal raid, including the acquisition of the search warrant, is ongoing. Cameron’s investigation did not look at the search warrant process for this case.
Cameron’s search warrant task force will mostly include government officials and members of law enforcement—judges, two Republican state lawmakers, the state police commissioner, the commissioner of the state Department of Criminal Justice Training, and people appointed by associations representing prosecutors and local governments.
Additionally, the panel will include the state’s chief public defender, a person appointed by the state NAACP, and three citizens appointed by Cameron.
Rep. Attica Scott, a Democrat from Louisville, says the task force shows Cameron isn’t interested in providing justice for people across the state.
“It’s an insult to the people of Kentucky, it’s a slap in our face. We’ve been crying out for a change in search warrants for months now. It’s not an issue that we need to keep studying,” Scott said.
Scott has proposed Breonna’s Law for Kentucky, a measure that would ban no-knock warrants, require police officers to be drug tested if they fire their weapons, and create penalties for not turning on body cameras.
So far, the proposal has not been assigned to a committee, but Scott says she has talked to leadership in the Republican-led House and Senate about considering it.
“It’s up to them whether or not they want to give it a chance to be heard and to be serious about addressing the cries for justice,” Scott said.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 10, which would create a commission to “conduct studies and research on issues where disparities may exist” on several issues.
Scott said she’s not sure there’s much more to “work-group.”
“Let’s get to the business of addressing this through policy,” Scott said.
Ted Shouse, a longtime Louisville criminal defense attorney, said the commission is tilted toward police and prosecutors, which he finds problematic.
“Because police are the ones drafting warrant applications and getting warrants and executing warrants—their voices are given an outsized weight on this commission just by sheer numbers,” Shouse said.
Bradley Clark, president of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said he appreciates the creation of the task force, but criticized it for not including defense attorneys—except for the public advocate, the state’s top public defender.
“Defense attorneys have a unique perspective on the problems with the way warrants are currently issued and served,” Clark said. “One defense attorney is insufficient for a balanced perspective on the issue.”
The task force will convene for the first time in the coming weeks, Cameron said, and will meet “as often as necessary” before developing recommendations by the end of the year.
Here is the full task force list, according to Cameron, with names to be submitted by Feb. 5:
- Two Kentucky Court of Justice representatives appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court;
- Judiciary Committee chairs from the state House of Representatives and Senate;
- Fraternal Order of Police of Kentucky appointee;
- Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association appointee;
- Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police appointee;
- Kentucky State Police commissioner or his designee;
- Kentucky Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Association appointee;
- Kentucky County Attorneys Association appointee;
- The public advocate or his designee;
- Kentucky League of Cities appointee;
- Kentucky Association of Counties appointee;
- Kentucky Conference of the NAACP appointee;
- Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training or his designee; Three citizens representing the commonwealth at large, appointed by the attorney general.