Rep. Val Demings, one of Biden’s potential running mate, on the shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., told Fox News that she is “absolutely honored to be on the list” of potential running mates for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to try to improve the quality of life for people living in the greatest country in the world,” Demings told Fox News. “I’ve tried to make my community stronger, safer and better, and I guess the vice president and others have taken a look at that work and we’ll see what happens.”
Demings has dedicated her life to being a public servant. She was a law enforcement officer of 27 years and became Orlando’s first female chief of police in 2007. In an interview with Fox News, Demings shared her insights into the shooting deaths of unarmed 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery and 26-year-old Louisville EMT Breonna Taylor.
Arbery was the Georgia jogger who was allegedy shot a white father Gregory McMichael, 64, and son Travis McMichael, 34, on February 23. The elder McMichael is a former police officer who spent nearly 40 years in the law enforcement field. For the entire month of March and April, Arbery’s family had to see Gregory and Travis McMichael walk freely around their Glynn County town.
“Justice has to be fair, but justice has to be swift,” said Demings. “I think it was a painful reminder to Ahmaud’s parents that their son, for some reason, deserved to lose his life in such a tragic way. … If you review the video, it is clear and convincing that there is enough probable cause to have made those arrests that day.”
Several days after Arbery’s death, Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused her office from the case. Arbery’s case was then assigned to the Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill, who also recused himself. Barnhill did argue, however, against filing charges in a letter he sent to law enforcement prior to removing himself from the case. In the April 2 letter, he wrote, “It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia law, this is perfectly legal.”
Demings noted that lawmakers must scrutinize the circumstances of the case, including the citizen’s arrest statute that Barnhill cited.
“This went all bad, and, we as a nation, have an obligation to do a complete and thorough investigation, not just in terms of the prosecution of the persons who murdered him, but also to look at our laws and change that which needs to be changed,” said Demings. “This is yet another critical moment for our nation; it’s another critical turning point, and we need to get it right.”
Demings continued that local jurisdictions must also reevaluate their policies and procedures as they pertain to “no-knock” warrants, which allow police officers to enter certain premises without first knocking and announcing their presence or purpose before entering the premises. “No-knock” warrants are at the center of the police killing of Breonna Taylor.
“They’re extremely dangerous,” explained Demings. “They’re extremely high-risk, and this is just the tragedy that has occurred that obviously should not have occurred.”
The Louisville Metro Police Department police were reportedly advised to carry out a “no-knock” warrant on Taylor’s home as part of a drug investigation on a home 10 miles away. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were the investigation’s target or had any criminal history. Police shot Taylor eight times, and she died while they were executing the warrant.
“My advice at this point in the investigation would be to look at ‘no-knock’ warrants,” said Demings. “I understand, as a law enforcement officer, why they are done, and they’re done to make sure that evidence is not being destroyed. But human life, the preservation of human life, especially the life of the innocent, is the most important responsibility that we all have.”
Walker was inside Taylor’s home when officers executed the warrant. According to a lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family, Walker shot at officers with his licensed weapon when they attempted to enter without announcing who they were and why they were there. Kentucky is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law, but Walker was arrested and is facing charges of first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer.
“I’ll put it this way,” said Demings. “If I believed that someone was breaking into my house and there was no warning from the police, I would do everything within my power to defend myself and my family.”
Taylor’s case is currently being investigated by federal authorities. Demings said she is glad to hear that the Department of Justice is looking to see if hate crimes would be appropriate in this case. She noted, however, William Barr’s tenure as attorney general has been “disappointing.”
“He’s done many questionable things since he has been with the Department of Justice, the second time around, which has been extremely disappointing,” explained Demings. “He’s been extremely disappointing as the attorney general because it does appear that if you are in his circle, then you’re above the law and that’s just plain wrong.”
For more insights from Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., on the Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor cases, watch the interview above.
Emily DeCiccio is a reporter and video producer for Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio.
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