Breonna Taylor’s Louisville protest cases settled ahead of trial

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The trial is over.

Twelve days before the Breonna Taylor protesters are due to face a jury for blocking traffic on the Clark Memorial Bridge, prosecutors announced that the other defendants had agreed to settle their cases.

Jefferson District Judge Anne Haynie had approved the consolidation of the cases of 26 protesters into one trial in August. And in the weeks that followed, each defendant agreed to do 20 hours of pro bono service in exchange for having their misdemeanor charges dismissed and removed from their case.

“We believe this was a fair offer in recognition that the actions of these individuals could have put members of our community, including themselves, at risk,” the county attorney said Wednesday. of Jefferson, Mike O’Connell, in a statement.

Background:Prosecutors want 26 Breonna Taylor protesters to be tried together. Is it possible?

O’Connell’s office previously reviewed more than 1,000 arrests stemming from racial justice protests in 2020 and 2021 and dismissed 70% of them, according to a Courier Journal analysis. But it advanced with more than 200 cases involving violence, threats of violence, property damage and road blockages – including the bridge protest on June 29, 2020.

That day, protesters associated with Black Lives Matter Louisville used vehicles and “a makeshift wall” to block traffic on the crossing between downtown Louisville and southern Indiana, court documents show. filed by Jefferson County Assistant Attorneys Rebecca Schroering and Lindsay Beets.

Protesters carried a fake coffin with the message “Rest in Power” written on it, and they hung a large banner bearing Taylor’s face from the side of the bridge, which was closed for more than three hours.

After:Why Most Protesters Arrested by Louisville Police Will Never Be Found Guilty of a Crime

Louisville Metro Police arrested a total of 44 people at the protest and charged each with obstructing a freeway and disorderly conduct. The county attorney’s office previously decided to dismiss this latest charge for all defendants.

While racial justice advocates called on the county attorney to drop all charges against the protesters, attorney Ted Shouse, who represented several bridge protest defendants, said the settlements were a step in the good direction.

“I think it’s an acknowledgment by the county that this protest should not result in a criminal conviction,” he said. “…They didn’t say we wouldn’t take jail time, which is pretty standard. Here they say we not only take no jail time, but if you’re volunteering, this will be set aside, rejected and expunged.

“There is no reason to label these people as people convicted of crimes.”

The county attorney’s office estimates that 52 cases related to the protests remain open, 25 of which have pending court dates. Twenty-seven of the cases were the subject of arrest warrants following a failure to appear in court.

Contact journalist Bailey Loosemore at [email protected], 502-582-4646 or on Twitter @bloosemore. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: https://www.courier-journal.com/baileyl.

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