Kentucky’s Black state attorney general choked up and held back tears Wednesday while explaining why no police officers are facing criminal charges directly related to Breonna Taylor’s death.
“I understand that as a Black man, how painful this is … which is why it was so incredibly important to make sure that we did everything we possibly could to uncover every fact,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron told a news conference in the capital of Frankfort.
His remarks came shortly after a grand jury announced that it had indicted only one former officer on three counts of wanton endangerment stemming from his firing shots into the homes of Taylor’s neighbors.
Cameron became emotional as he talked about his interactions with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer.
“Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief,” Cameron said. “And that is, that is true here. But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. And I’ve said that repeatedly. My mother, if something was to happen to me,” he said, pausing as his voice faltered and he held back tears, “would find it very hard. … I’ve seen that pain on Miss Palmer’s face. I’ve seen that pain in the community.”
Cameron also mentioned the scrutiny he has been under as he investigated the case.
“But that scrutiny in many ways was misplaced because there was not a day that people in this office didn’t go to sleep thinking about this case,” he said.
Some reacted to Cameron’s remarks with anger, and claimed he was putting on an emotional show.
“His statements to me are crocodile tears,” said Davante Lewis, director of public affairs and outreach at the Louisiana Budget Project in Baton Rouge, a nonprofit organization that works with the low-income community and advocates racial equality.
“A Black face in a high place doesn’t mean anything if it’s not about actually fundamentally decolonizing and tearing down the systems of inequality and inequity that have existed in this county since its founding,” Lewis said.
Cameron, 34, was elected last year. He spoke at the GOP convention in August during which he proclaimed himself a “proud Republican and supporter of President Donald J. Trump.”
A rising star in the party, Cameron was placed on Trump’s short list for Supreme Court justice. Cameron is also a protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — and tagged by some as his heir apparent in the U.S. Senate.
Commenting during his convention speech on nationwide protests against the police shootings of Black people and for racial equality, Cameron remarked, “Even as anarchists mindlessly tear up American cities while attacking police and innocent bystanders, we Republicans do recognize those who work in good faith towards peace, justice, and equality.”
He added that “Republicans will never turn a blind eye to unjust acts, but neither will we accept an all-out assault on Western civilization.”
Associated Press reporter Haleluya Hadero in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.