LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell dismissed felony charges against the 87 protesters arrested at Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s (R) House Tuesday night.
“After careful review of the law, I am dismissing the felony charge of Intimidating a Participant in the Legal Process against the protestors arrested on Attorney General Cameron’s property on July 14, 2020. While we do believe the LMPD had probable cause for the charge, in the interest of justice and the promotion of the free exchange of ideas, we will dismiss that charge for each protestor arrested this past Tuesday,” said O’Connell. “We continue to review the misdemeanors and violations for prosecution at a later date.”
Demonstrators gathered at Cameron’s home Tuesday night, demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.
The protest outside Cameron’s home followed his announcement this week that there is still no timeline for when his office will be done with its investigation. Cameron serves as special prosecutor for the case.
“We are here to hold Daniel Cameron accountable and make sure that he does his job, because he is not doing his job,” said Linda Sarsour, co-found of Until Freedom, the social justice organization which gathered for a sit-in on the front yard of Cameron’s home.
Louisville Metro Police Department spokesman Lamont Washington said demonstrators were told remaining on the property was unlawful and given a chance to leave, however, they didn’t.
Thursday, LMPD explained the felony charges in more detail. The protestors violated KRS 524.040 — intimidating a participant in a legal process.
The staute reads:
“A person is guilty of intimidating a participant in the legal process when, by use of force or a threat directed to a person he believes to be a participant in the legal process he or she:
Influences, or attempts to influence, the testimony, vote, decision, or opinion of that person.
Force by definition can be actual or implied and is the power, violence or pressure directed against a person. Entry into the ground of another without consent is an example of implied force. “
Before protestors arrived at Cameron’s home, it was said the purpose of the protest was to “escalate” their actions, which according to LMPD, in the past has indicated violent or destructive behavior. During a livestream, protestors can be heard saying they will burn down Cameron’s home if they don’t get what they want.
Protesters had been instructed beforehand not to resist arrest and could be seen lining up at 6 p.m. to await transfer to Louisville Metro Corrections. Kenny Stills, wide receiver for the Houston Texans, and Porsha Williams of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” were arrested.
When protestors arrived at the Cameron home, they entered his yard without permission, looked through his windows, and filled the street. LMPD personnel confirmed with the Attorney General’s security detail that the protestors were not invited and should be removed.
According to Washington, each person arrested was charged with “intimidating a participant in a legal process,” which is a felony; disorderly conduct, and criminal trespassing.
Cameron said the protest won’t bring justice and “only serves to further division and tension within our community.”
“From the beginning, our office has set out to do its job, to fully investigate the events surrounding the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor,” Cameron said. “We continue with a thorough and fair investigation, and today’s events will not alter our pursuit of the truth.”
LMPD responded to the County Attorney’s decision.
“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,” said LMPD special adviser Jessie Halladay. “The County Attorney must weigh several factors when considering next steps, and we respect the decision he announced today.”