AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
For months, the family and friends of Breonna Taylor have been telling the public to say her name to remember the Black woman killed in a police raid on her home in Louisville, Ky. Today another refrain has emerged - release the transcripts. After a grand jury declined to charge any officers for the actual shooting of Breonna Taylor, protesters are now demanding evidence for this decision to see just what the Kentucky attorney general argued to the grand jury. One person calling for the release of court transcripts is Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. He's a Democrat. Earlier today we asked him if he believes the grand jury was misled.
ANDY BESHEAR: What has happened in a very long investigation and ultimately a grand jury proceeding here is that people haven't seen the basic facts. They've been told, for instance, about two ballistics reports. If they've been described to the people, let the people see them and read them. And I believe that what we have right now is a vacuum out there. And oftentimes, when there's a vacuum of information, your emotions, your frustrations and others can fill that vacuum. Let's give people the basic information, the facts and the truth and trust them with it.
CORNISH: How would that change things? I mean, after 191 days of protests, is the issue really more about culpability, accountability and what people perceive as justice?
BESHEAR: Well, I believe in this specific incident that people want to see and be able to judge the facts for themselves. Now, obviously, the calls being made in Louisville and around the country are about more than just this individual case. And for me, it's important that I start with humility, knowing that I can never feel the frustration of 400 years of slavery, of segregation and of Jim Crow but that my job as governor can be to listen, to try to hear and then to be committed to making sure that our future is better than our past.
CORNISH: But as governor, you do have some powers. What legal recourse could you take if you were interested in doing so? What legislative recourse could you take if interested in doing so?
BESHEAR: Well, as governor, you're right. My - I'm limited on what I can do in this specific matter in the actual justice system itself. But what I can do is be committed to addressing inequalities that exist in just about every part of our society. And a raid...
CORNISH: No, but hold on one second.
CORNISH: There are rules and regulations around police use of force. Could you not have an influence there if you believe that was necessary?
BESHEAR: We are currently talking to both members of our Black Legislative Caucus, to police and to others about reforms, about changes, about improvements. I think any time that a tragedy occurs, if we do not change the way we do things in the future, shame on us.
CORNISH: Is there anything in particular you feel supportive of?
BESHEAR: Well, we've certainly instituted changes in our officer training that impact most of the state. I believe that we have to look at warrants and no-knock warrants about when they can be issued and by whom they should be carried out. I think we need to look at the planning of various operations and make sure that no part is ever an afterthought. At the end of the day, someone's life was lost, and we've got to do everything we can in the future to make sure something like that never happens again.
CORNISH: Are you dealing with the FBI or reaching out to the FBI about its federal civil rights investigation?
BESHEAR: Well, the FBI operates pretty independently, but we have been in contact with the U.S. attorney and know that that investigation is proceeding. But I don't believe that that investigation touches on much of what the attorney general is looking at. And therefore, I believe that the underlying evidence can and should be released. I was a prosecutor. I was the former attorney general. I believe at this point that that is allowable and that the public should know. And, again, just trust the people of America with the truth.
CORNISH: We're looking at 190-plus days of protests so far. In the last two days, Louisville police have arrested over 150 people. Obviously, two officers, at one point, were shot. You called in the National Guard to support police. Do you believe that these actions are necessary?
BESHEAR: Well, I do believe these actions are necessary. And what we saw the other night in the shooting of two police officers is that 99.99% of people who are out are giving voice to frustrations, and I support that First Amendment right. What we also see is it just takes one person wanting to do the wrong thing to mar what is otherwise a peaceful protest. We also see militia groups coming into Kentucky and into Louisville that would like nothing more than to cause violence between multiple groups that they do not like.
So when I made that call for the National Guard - and it is a limited operation - it's in an effort to keep everybody safe and some of our critical infrastructure functioning - for instance, our hospitals. So I do hope that people out there know that when I make that deployment, it is because I want to make sure that everyone is safe but that everyone can still express themselves.
CORNISH: Governor, thank you so much for speaking with us.
BESHEAR: Thank you very much.
CORNISH: That's Kentucky's Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.