Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the city will ask the Kentucky State Police to independently investigate shootings by Louisville Metro Police officers, rather than having local police investigate themselves.
Fischer announced this in a video speech posted online Thursday evening. He acknowledged public frustration over how long the investigations into the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor are taking. Fischer said he shares that frustration.
“In the event of an officer-involved shooting where a person is killed or injured, we will contact Kentucky State Police to do an independent investigation, rather than LMPD,” he said.
Taylor was killed during a middle-of-the-night raid on her apartment in March. Police broke down her door as they were executing a warrant tied to a broader narcotics investigation that was focused on her ex-boyfriend. No drugs were found in her home. Police opened fire after Taylor’s boyfriend fired his gun once, striking and injuring one of the officers. He later said he did not know who was entering and thought they were intruders.
LMPD turned over the results of its internal investigation to state attorney general Daniel Cameron in May. He is reviewing the case and investigating further, and has the power to bring criminal charges against the officers who shot at Taylor. Last week, he declined to put a timeline on when that investigation may wrap up.
“Now we’re all waiting for him to announce his findings. I’m waiting, same as you,” Fischer said. “I have no control or influence of that process or the additional independent investigations being conducted by the Department of Justice and the FBI.”
Those bodies also have not said when their investigations will be complete.
Fischer listed some of the changes he’s already made: signing Breonna’s Law to ban no-knock warrants in Louisville; requiring police officers to wear body cameras; firing police chief Steve Conrad; conducting a national search for Conrad’s replacement; ordering an independent review of LMPD; and working to create an independent civilian review board.
“These are substantial changes, but we know they are not nearly enough to soothe or heal the anger people feel about what happened,” he said.
Still many in Louisville — including Black officials who previously worked in the Fischer administration — say they are dissatisfied with the steps the mayor has taken. And protesters in the streets of Louisville continue to demand the the firing and arrests of the officers who shot at Taylor.
Fischer said there’s a long history of Black Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement, and that addressing structural and systemic racism will require reform. He said he will push for legislative change locally and at the state level to allow, among other things, for city officials to share more information with the public while investigations remain open.
He said he’ll also work with the police union to “find ways to strike the right balance between protecting officers’ right to due process, and providing the public with greater transparency and accountability.”
LMPD’s collective bargaining agreement is currently under negotiation. While one of the officers who shot at Taylor, Brett Hankison, was fired last month, Fischer has previously said firing all the officers would open the city up to expensive lawsuits because of the police contract. Hankison is appealing the decision.
River City FOP president Ryan Nichols said he understands the premise of not wanting LMPD to investigate itself based on appearances, but called it hypocritical to give the task to KSP, which investigates its own shootings. Instead, he suggested a task force that would draw investigators from police departments across the state. That could include LMPD and be led by KSP, and allow agencies to share resources.
“They would investigate all officer-involved shootings across the state for every agency, ensuring that every officer-involved shooting investigation was done the same,” Nichols said.
He was not aware of any other states that use such a model.
A spokeswoman for the mayor, Jean Porter, responded to a request for comment emailed to LMPD.
“The Mayor and Chief agree that to help restore public trust, the city should move to have an outside entity investigate any future officer-involved shooting where someone is killed or injured,” she wrote. “There are many ideas for how this might work, including the multi-agency task force idea proposed by the FOP president. Until a long-term system is established, Louisville will contact the KSP to conduct such investigations.”
This story has been updated to include comment from Ryan Nichols and Jean Porter.