Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) wrote in a statement on Thursday that the grand jury’s decision to indict only one officer involved in Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting by Louisville police leaves him “angry, sad, and frustrated.”
On Wednesday, a grand jury in Taylor’s case indicted former Louisville Metro Police Department Detective Brett Hankison with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. The two other officers involved in the fatal shooting of Taylor — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove — were not indicted.
In explaining the charges on Wednesday, Judge Annie O’Connell said that Hankison “wantonly shot a gun” into adjoining Apartment 3. The occupants of that apartment, which were identified by initials, did not include “BT” for Taylor.
In his statement issued the day after, Scott — who is the lone African-American Republican senator and the leader of the GOP’s effort on police reform — wrote that Taylor’s life “must mean more than this” as he expressed his condolences to her family.
“After months of heartache, I cannot imagine what her family is feeling today, but my prayers are with them,” Scott wrote.
Scott said that he is “disappointed” that the lone charge in Taylor’s case, which was brought against Hankison, “was completely unrelated” to Taylor’s death, given how initial police reports were falsified.
Scott wrote that the JUSTICE Act — an ultimately unsuccessful Senate Republican proposal spearheaded by Scott in response to protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death earlier this year — “would have given prosecutors additional tools useful in this case.” Scott wrote that the act would have helped by increasing penalties for falsifying a police report and new penalties for not using body cameras.
Scott vowed to “continue to seek reforms to no knock warrants,” but urged states to understand that “federal role is limited.”
“States and localities can ban no knock warrants in a way that would have prevented Breonna Taylor’s death, while the Constitution stops the federal government from doing so,” Scott wrote. “These sorts of reforms must start from the ground up.”
Additionally, Scott wrote that he is praying for the two officers who were shot on Wednesday night during unrest that erupted in Louisville, Kentucky following the grand jury’s lone indictment in Taylor’s case.
“There is no doubt that the events of 2020 have left our nation on edge, but we cannot push ourselves over the cliff,” Scott said. “Make your voices heard, but do not equate violence with more violence.”
Scott’s statement comes after President Trump tweeted on Wednesday night that he is “prepared” to send federal assistance to Louisville after the shooting of two police officers amid unrest. Shortly after midnight on Thursday, Trump tweeted “LAW & ORDER!”
While speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon, the President reiterated that he is “prepared to work together” with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) following the shooting of two Louisville police officers, and that he thinks a “sad thing” is happening.
“I think it’s a sad thing, and I give my regards to the family of Breonna,” Trump said on Thursday. “I also think it’s so sad what’s happening with everything about that case, including law enforcement. So many people suffering, so many people needlessly suffering.”
Last month, Scott invoked the deaths of Taylor and Floyd during his Republican National Convention speech.
“This isn’t how I pictured tonight, but our country is experiencing something none of us envisioned,” Scott said during his RNC speech. “From a global pandemic to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, 2020 has tested our nation in ways we haven’t seen for decades.”