Felony charges have been dropped against 87 people who were arrested this week on the lawn of Kentucky’s attorney general while protesting the response to the death of Breonna Taylor, the top local prosecutor announced Friday.
The charge, intimidating a participant in a legal process, was reasonable, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell said in a statement. But “in the interest of justice and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas, we will dismiss that charge for each protester this past Tuesday,” he said.
The demonstrators gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, to demand the arrests of three plainclothes officers involved in Taylor’s death March 13. Taylor was fatally shot when officers served a “no-knock” warrant at her Louisville home. Her boyfriend, who thought their apartment was being broken into, opened fire, injuring one officer. Taylor, 26, was shot eight times in a hail of return fire.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, says drugs were not found in Taylor’s home.
On Tuesdays, the protesters marched from a high school to the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, where they sat down on his front lawn.
Police arrested nearly 100 people, including “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Porsha Williams and NFL player Kenny Stills, according to NBC affiliate WAVE of Louisville.
Other charges against the demonstrators, including disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, remain under review, O’Connell said.
“Officers have to make the best decisions they can with the information they have at the time, and we appreciate that the County Attorney agreed that the officers in this case had probable cause to make the charges they did,” Louisville Metro Police Department spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said in a statement.
The felony charge alarmed the ACLU of Kentucky.
Corey Shapiro, legal director of the group, said Tuesday that he thought Louisville police were using the measure in an attempt to muzzle the protests.
“This action is an overblown, outrageous and inappropriate reaction to a community that is rightfully upset with its government’s delay in holding the police accountable,” Shapiro said by email. “The only purpose these charges seem to serve is to potentially chill the free speech rights of the protesters.”