Kentucky lawmaker introduces 3 new bills in wake of Breonna Taylor case

One of the bills would protect citizens who film and broadcast police activity.

January 11, 2021, 5:24 PM

A Kentucky lawmaker has begun the state's legislative session by introducing three bills that address police conduct and protests in the wake of the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

State Rep. Lisa Willner told ABC News in a statement she introduced the three bills in the Kentucky General Assembly after hearing firsthand accounts of constituents who say they have been victims of police misconduct, particularly during the protests surrounding Taylor's case.

"Many were met with violent responses, unjustified arrests and brutal and dehumanizing treatment at the hands of those sworn to protect them," Willner, a Democrat, told ABC News in a statement.

One of the pieces of legislation is called the "demilitarization bill" and would change the state law to ban police departments from receiving surplus military equipment. The bill also calls for de-escalation training, banning the use of kettling and limiting the use of weapons such as rubber bullets and chemical agents.

PHOTO: Law enforcement hold a line as a man is being detained during a demonstration, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Law enforcement hold a line as a man is being detained during a demonstration, Sept. 23, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images, FILE

Another bill would amend the laws when it comes to riots. Under the current law, a person can be found guilty if they knowingly participate in a riot and "simultaneously with five or more other persons ... knowingly engages in violent and unlawful conduct causing a public disturbance that creates substantial imminent risk of damage to property or physical injury to person."

Willner's bill would remove language that would incriminate people who took part in a protest but did not harm others or cause property damage.

The third bill protects citizens who film police activity. Under the legislation's rules, people "may not lawfully be asked to stop photographing or recording, or to delete photographs or recordings, and shall not be subject to arrest for photographing or making or broadcasting the recording."

PHOTO: A group of protesters gather in the street during a march to the Breonna Taylor memorial at Jefferson Square Park, Oct. 10, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.
A group of protesters gather in the street during a march to the Breonna Taylor memorial at Jefferson Square Park, Oct. 10, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Jon Cherry/Getty Images, FILE

Willner told ABC News the bills will have an uphill battle in the statehouse, which is controlled by the Republicans, however, she has received messages of support from Kentucky residents since the bills were announced over the weekend.

"There is little in the bills that have not already been passed into law in other states, including other majority Republican states," she said. "Nothing in any of the bills changes definitions or reduces consequences for those willfully engaging in or encouraging violent or destructive acts."

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