President Trump commended Kentucky's Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for authorizing the deployment of the National Guard to quell unrest triggered by charges against a single Louisville police officer connected to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
Trump told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade on his radio show Thursday that he spoke to Beshear and ensured "we're working with him" to stop the turbulence that has gripped his state.
Trump reiterated that he would not hesitate to send federal officers to Kentucky if Beshear requested him to do so, a strategy that garnered heavy backlash after federal forces deployed to Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., to protect federal property being damaged during racial justice protests. The officers were accused of being heavy-handed with innocent bystanders and failing to identify themselves to demonstrators being arrested.
"We'll close it down for you if you want," Trump said he told the governor.
Overnight protests in Louisville turned violent as demonstrators expressed outrage at the grand jury's decision earlier in the day to charge former officer Brett Hankison with wanton endangerment of Taylor's neighbors' lives – and not with the actual death of Taylor – during the shooting incident in March.
Two officers were shot and severely wounded Wednesday night after a gunman “intentionally used a handgun to fire multiple bullets at officers” attempting crowd control, according to the post-arrest complaint filed in Jefferson County.
The alleged shooter, Larynzo Johnson, 26, has been arrested and charged with wanton endangerment and assault of a police officer.
“Praying for the two police officers that were shot tonight in Louisville, Kentucky,” Trump said on Twitter late Wednesday. “The Federal Government stands behind you and is ready to help. Spoke to @GovAndyBeshear and we are prepared to work together, immediately upon request!”
The indictment against Hankison was announced 194 days after Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, was shot five times by the officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation on March 13. No drugs were found in her apartment.
Authorities found that the bullets fired by Hankison traveled into the neighboring apartment while three residents were home – a male, a pregnant female and a child.
During a press conference at the White House on Wednesday, Trump praised Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who presented his findings to a grand jury before the jury came to a decision.
“He’s handling it very well,” Trump said, before reading out a statement Cameron had given earlier when announcing the charges.
When asked what his message was to the Black community who felt "justice had not been served," Trump pivoted to his record, then abruptly ended the briefing, saying he had to take an “emergency phone call."
On Thursday, Trump, who was rushing to the Supreme Court to pay his respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, suddenly ended his interview with Kilmeade after questions continued about Taylor's death and issues surrounding race relations in this country stemming from excessive use of force by police, particularly against Black people and minorities.
Fox News' Danielle Wallace and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.