The Fischer administration’s decision-making around the Breonna Taylor case could soon be the subject of a Metro Council investigation.
The leaders of the council’s Government Oversight and Audit Committee announced plans Monday to file a resolution that would allow them to initiate such an investigation. The council is on summer break, and could take up the issue on July 23.
Committee chair Brent Ackerson (D-26) said he is hoping for a broad investigation, calling it a “massive” issue.
“The biggest thing is to focus on getting the entire truth out there,” he said at a news conference. “And then from there you, the media, and the community can start asking more questions. And from there, we can try to get you more answers.”
Ackerson said the committee could use its powers — which include issuing subpoenas and requiring people to testify under oath — to construct a clear timeline of what happened leading up to the police killing of Taylor in her home on March 13.
Her name has been chanted by racial justice protesters across the country over the past month, including in Louisville.
But in Ackerson’s opinion, the investigation doesn’t have to stop there.
There are also questions about the choices that led to the killing of David McAtee by a National Guard member while the city was under curfew, during an action in which Louisville Metro Police participated, as well as the use of force by police against protesters, he said. Plus, there was the recent decision to throw away protesters’ belongings after officials cleared Jefferson Square Park following the killing of protester Tyler Gerth over the weekend.
“Where does the buck stop with a lot of these decisions?” Ackerson said. “Why were we at the corner where Mr. McAtee was shot, in such force? What was the cause, or justification?”
The investigation comes at a time when public opinion of Mayor Greg Fischer appears relatively low. Racial justice protesters criticize him for a lack of action, while supporters of the police criticize him for not supporting officers.
Ackerson told reporters the goal of the investigation is to get the truth. Despite calls for Fischer to resign, he said it’s not to build a case to remove Fischer from office.
Committee vice chair Anthony Piagentini (R-19) agreed. He said the council could call Fischer to testify.
“If that’s one of the people that we need to call to get to the truth, then certainly we’ll call him,” he said.
Piagentini said the investigation would include “anybody and everybody” in the executive branch involved in making decisions pertaining to these issues.
Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville, said members of the public and council may be getting impatient for answers regarding the Taylor case.
Protesters continue to engage in civil disobedience downtown, while also contacting city and state officials to demand charges against the police officers in the Taylor case. Piagentini said one of the answers the investigation would seek is to the question of why the investigations into the Taylor killing are taking so long.
Fischer’s initial public response to the killing included comments that even if people want investigations to move quickly, that’s not always possible.
Clayton said it’s now been long enough that people are beginning to wonder why all the information isn’t public yet.
While the council is trying to respond to Taylor’s killing, an investigation is another potential tool available to it.
“I think the council feels like, you know, since they’re duly elected officials as well, that they have a right to investigate to find out what’s holding things up,” Clayton said.
Although Ackerson and Piagentini promoted this action’s bipartisan nature, at least one Black activist has taken issue with the latter council member’s participation.
Hannah Drake, who is also a poet and spoken-word artist, tweeted her disapproval during Monday’s press conference.
Everyone that wants to appear like they are for you ain’t really for you. This isn’t about hearing any cries from our citizens. A few weeks ago Anthony was calling protestors invaders. This is about ANTHONY. Don’t believe the hype. pic.twitter.com/96Hu6z3bYH
— Hannah Drake (@HannahDrake628) June 29, 2020
Earlier this month, Piagentini criticized the mayor for not taking action against protesters who blocked the intersection at Sixth Street and Jefferson Street downtown.
Been trying to get ahold of @louisvillemayor There are multiple blocks of downtown overtaken by invaders. I am standing here and I don’t see anyone from the Administration. I have called multiple people. Get to work Mayor. Stop this lawlessness. pic.twitter.com/9ZVOXz1g3b
— Councilman Anthony Piagentini (@CMPiagentini) June 17, 2020
Piagentini has since exchanged tweets with Drake over his use of the term “invaders.”
Mayor Fischer’s office did not respond to WFPL News’ multiple requests for comment on the investigation.
In a statement to the Courier-Journal, Mayor Fischer’s spokeswoman Jean Porter cited reviews of LMPD and separately, the Breonna Taylor case ordered by Fischer.
“And to be clear, he is not waiting on any of those reviews to make changes, as evidenced by his decision to ban no-knock warrants, to require broader use of body cameras and replace prior leadership at LMPD,” Porter told the newspaper.