Louisville police and soldiers return fire, killing man; police chief fired

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP/Gray News) — Louisville’s mayor said the police chief had been fired immediately after learning officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man did not have their body cameras turned on.

Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday that Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, who announced he would resign in May, has been fired.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear had called for the release of police video from a deadly shooting in Louisville. He has ordered Kentucky State Police to investigate the matter.

Family says man shot dead was protecting his niece

Louisville’s police chief says officers and National Guard soldiers enforcing the city’s curfew returned fire and killed a man when someone in a large group fired at them.

Conrad confirmed the shooting happened around 12:15 a.m. Monday.

He said officers and the National Guard were called to break up a large group of people who had gathered there after the city’s curfew when someone fired a shot at them.

Gov. Andy Beshear says there’s significant camera footage from the shooting and pressed police to release the video as soon as possible.

WAVE reported the man killed was David McAtee, according to his family. A large crowd amassed later in the day at 26th and Broadway, the site of the shooting, to show its support for McAtee’s family

“He didn’t hurt nobody, didn’t deserve to get shot down like he did,” McAtee’s sister said. “I don’t know what happened, but whatever happened here, my brother didn’t do nothing wrong. He was an innocent person, an innocent bystander.”

McAtee’s sister said the crowd that was gathered before the shooting wasn’t taking part in the protests that have packed Louisville city streets the last four nights. She said a group meets in that area every Sunday night for food and music, adding that her brother, who owned the establishment owned Yaya’s BBQ Shack, was helping serve food.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer expressed his condolences to the family in person at the gathering and on social media.

My deepest, deepest condolences to the family and friends of David McAtee.

Posted by Mayor Greg Fischer on Monday, June 1, 2020

The U.S. attorney said federal authorities will join state police in investigating the fatal shooting.

Later Monday evening, the massive group stretching for several blocks marched a couple of miles from downtown to the site where McAtee was killed just hours earlier. As the protesters passed, some motorists put their fists in the air and honked in solidarity with the marchers.

Earlier, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer revealed that authorities lacked body camera video for the investigation just hours after Kentucky's governor demanded the release of police video.

“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated," Fischer said. “Accordingly, I have relieved Steve Conrad of his duties as chief of Louisville Metro Police Department.”

Gov. Andy Beshear later said the lack of body camera footage was unacceptable.

“This is the entire reason that we have those cameras," the Democratic governor said at the state Capitol in Frankfort. “And every other officers’ cameras should be reviewed, and if they captured any part of the scene it ought to be released.”

Beshear authorized state police to independently investigate the shooting. He pledged the probe will be conducted in an “honest and transparent way that will not take months.”

U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman announced that federal authorities will be part of the investigation.

“We understand this community’s need for answers and we will assess all the information, and will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law.” Coleman's office said.

The governor said he had counted on body camera footage to help determine “the truth in a way that spoke for itself, at a time when trust is difficult and people deserve to be able to see and evaluate."

The shakeup at the top of the city's police department came a month earlier than expected. Conrad had previously announced his resignation, which was to take effect at the end of June. Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder will step in immediately as chief, Fischer said.

The mayor also said the city's curfew was being extended until June 8.

Police did retrieve video from crime center cameras that showed how the shooting unfolded, Schroeder said.

“It is taken from a distance, but it gives an overview of the scene and clearly shows the officers reacting to gunfire,” he said.

Two Louisville officers and two Guard soldiers returned fire, he said. The two officers violated policy by not wearing or activating body cameras, Schroeder said, adding they have been placed on administrative leave.

Protesters have been demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed in her home in Louisville in March. The 26-year-old EMT was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door as they attempted to enforce a search warrant. No drugs were found in the home.

After Taylor's death, the mayor said Louisville police would be required to wear body cameras. Fischer said recently that officers in plainclothes units like the one that served a warrant at Taylor’s home would now wear the cameras during search warrants.

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, renewed her plea for peace Monday while demanding justice for her daughter.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. Gray Media Group, Inc. contributed to the report. All rights reserved.