With Kentucky set to make a highly anticipated decision soon in the state’s investigation into the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, all eyes are on the state’s trailblazing Republican attorney general, whose office is overseeing the controversial case.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first African American to hold the post and a rising star in the Republican Party, was made a special prosecutor earlier this year in the case of Taylor, a 26-year-old Kentucky EMT whose death at the hands of police in March has been under investigation by his office.
Cameron’s office is expected to make an announcement in its probe soon. Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, said last month that he expects a decision in the case to be made before the Kentucky Derby is held on September 5, but Cameron announced earlier this week that his office does not plan to make an announcement this week because “there is still additional analysis that must take place.”
Taylor’s case, which helped spark nationwide protests over racial injustice this summer, has placed Cameron in the spotlight as activists demand that the officers responsible for her death be arrested, and it could serve as a pivotal moment in the 34-year-old attorney general’s career.
Already, Cameron is a darling of the Republican Party, having received praise from President Donald Trump and a coveted speaking spot at the party’s convention last month, where he referenced the protests spurred by Taylor’s death.
“Even as anarchists mindlessly tear up American cities while attacking police and innocent bystanders, we Republicans do recognize those who work in good faith towards peace, justice and equality,” he said. “In fact, it was Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, a future Republican president, who said democracy is a system that recognizes the equality of humans before the law.”
Cameron also used his speech to tear into Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, whom he criticized for making controversial remarks about Black people during the campaign.
“I think often about my ancestors who struggled for freedom, and as I think of those giants and their broad shoulders, I also think about Joe Biden, who says, ‘If you are not voting for me, you ain’t black,’” Cameron said at one point, paraphrasing a comment Biden had made in May.
CNN has reached out to Cameron’s office for comment.
‘A star is born’
Cameron, the first Republican to hold the office of Kentucky attorney general in seven decades, is a protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, having served as the Kentucky Republican’s general counsel from 2015 to 2017, a role that included leading Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation process.
Cameron’s relationship with McConnell paid off, as the senator’s support for his bid helped him secure his victory last year.
Cameron’s bid also had the backing of Trump, who praised him in Kentucky ahead of his election.
“A star is born,” Trump said of Cameron at a presidential rally for Kentucky Republicans. Following Cameron’s election, Trump said in a tweet: “Great going Daniel, proud of you!”
Cameron ran as an unapologetic conservative, which, along with a major assist from McConnell’s organization, helped boost him to a primary win over a sitting state senator and then a relatively easy general election victory over Democrat Greg Stumbo, a former speaker of the state House and a former state attorney general himself. Cameron touted his support for Trump’s immigration policies as well as his socially conservative views on abortion.
Since taking office late last year, Cameron has frequently focused on the issue of abortion, including earlier this year when he called for the governor’s order restricting elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic to apply to elective abortions.
But Taylor’s case is perhaps Cameron’s biggest test to date. After being named a special prosecutor, the attorney general noted that in light of the unrest her death helped stir, “there are sensitivities to this case because of everything that’s going on in this country, but at the end of the day my responsibility is to make sure that we get it right.”
“We are working around the clock to follow the law to the truth,” Cameron said at a news conference in June. “I’d also like to say to all those involved in this case, you have my commitment that our office is undertaking a thorough and fair investigation.”
In mid-August, Cameron met with Taylor’s family for the first time, more than 150 days after Louisville police killed her in her home. His office said he was “grateful” to hold the meeting, which included Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, sister, aunt, family attorneys and a local activist.
“The meeting provided an opportunity for Attorney General Cameron to personally express his condolences to the family,” the office said in a statement. Lonita Baker, an attorney for the family, said after the meeting that Cameron had told them he hadn’t met with the family earlier because he didn’t want it to interfere with the investigation.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly, Chris Cillizza, Eric Levenson and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.