The president of the fraternal order of police that represents the Louisville Metro Police Department spoke to Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” in an interview that aired Thursday to discuss the controversy surrounding the death of 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor, who was killed inside her Kentucky apartment on March 13.
River City Fraternal Order of Police President Ryan Nichols defended Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's handling of the case and the officers' actions on the night Breonna Taylor was killed. He called Cameron’s handling of the investigation “complete and thorough.”
“A tragedy did in fact happen, a police officer was critically injured, a woman was fatally injured and a long thorough investigation ensued, and that is the process that should happen,” he told King earlier in the interview.
King brought up that Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he fired one warning shot because he believed someone was breaking into the home and was met with a hail of gunfire from police.
“I do believe that the officers were justified in returning fire,” Nichols said.
“32 shots?!” a surprised King interjected.
“Well, in a situation like that when you return fire to stop a threat, typically, you may not be aware of how many rounds someone else is firing and how many officers are firing,” he said. “Perhaps you may not have an accurate count on the rounds you fired in a high stress situation like that.”
Since the March 13 incident, many, including Taylor’s estate, the attorneys for Kenneth Walker, and two anonymous members of the Grand Jury, have accused the police of a cover-up.
Nichols believes there wasn’t a cover-up by the Louisville Police Department, telling King, "I don't believe there's a cover-up of anything that occurred. Can I definitely say affirmatively that no mistakes on anything were made? Obviously not. But I don't believe that there was any type of cover-up. And if there was, that that would definitely be found out by the many entities that are conducting these investigations."
The LMPD told Inside Edition Digital in a statement that “Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Due to the nature of this on-going incident, the LMPD declines to comment.”
Nichols also made his stance clear in saying that he believes race did not play a role at all in the death of Taylor.
"No, I don't think this occurred as a result of any type of racial issue or this was determined by race somehow,” he said.
He added that he does not believe the LMPD has a problem with racial bias.
Nichols, who has not been a part of any of the investigation into Taylor’s death, spoke on behalf of the cops he represents. “Morale is low here,” he said.
“They want to be here and they don't want citizens to have to live in fear of violence of any kind, and so it's very frustrating.”
King also reported that Nichols said that when it comes to change within the police, his union is open to “fair and balanced reforms.”
In September, Taylor’s estate was awarded $12 million by the city in damages. The mayor also announced sweeping police reform.
In documentation previously obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal, police were authorized to carry out a “no-knock” warrant on Taylor’s Louisville home on March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation of a person who lived in a home 10 miles away. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were the investigation's target. Police had suspected, though, that Taylor’s home was used to receive drugs.
Authorities said they identified themselves, despite the “no-knock” warrant. Police said the officers were “immediately” met by gunfire when they entered Taylor and Walker's home, at which point they returned fire.
Walker called 911 during the ordeal and he was informed he'd shot an officer. He was initially charged with attempted murder, but his charges were later dropped after he said he shot in self-defense thinking he and Taylor were victims of a home invasion.
In the wake of Taylor's death, the city has banned "no-knock" warrants.
In June, Officer Brett Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department. He has also been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for bullets that hit an apartment of one of Taylor’s neighbors. He is currently contesting his termination and has pleaded not guilty. Officers Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove whose bullets hit Taylor have not been charged. Kentucky’s attorney general has stated that their use of force was justified because Walker fired first.