Cops Didn’t Have Their Body Cameras On When They Shot and Killed a Black Man During Louisville’s Protests

June 1, 2020 Off By David Gilbert

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The two Louisville police officers who fired on a crowd of people Monday morning during an altercation that left one black man dead didn’t have their body cams activated, the city’s mayor revealed on Monday afternoon.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher told a press conference that the failure to activate the body cameras was an “institutional failure” that could not be tolerated. He announced that Police Chief Steve Conrad had been fired immediately as a result.

Conrad had announced last month that he would retire at the end of June.

David McAtee, the 53-year-old owner of YaYa’s BBQ restaurant in the city, was killed during the altercation just after midnight on Monday. The two police officers, together with troops from the National Guard, were called to Dino's Food Mart on South 26th Street at around 12 a.m. local time to help clear a large crowd that had gathered in the parking lot.

The officers were met with gunfire, Conrad said, and both the officers and National Guard troops fired back at the crowd.

Robert Schroeder, assistant chief of police, who has been promoted to acting police chief, told reporters Monday afternoon that it is still unclear who shot McAtee. The police released CCTV footage of the shooting incident as well as radio transmissions, but Schroeder admitted neither were an adequate replacement for body cam footage.

Schroeder said that the police department was in the process of upgrading its entire force with body cams and while the two officers at the shooting Monday were wearing them, some of the force are still to receive theirs.

As well as the local investigation, Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered Kentucky State Police to investigate the shooting.

The incident took place during widespread protests in Louisville at police brutality after the death of George Floyd last week and the death in March of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, who was shot and killed by LMPD officers in her home. While Derek Chauvin, the man who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes before he died has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder, the three police officers involved in Taylor’s shooting have yet to be charged.

McAtee, whose family called him a “community pillar,” ran a popular barbecue joint located next to Dino's Food Mart. He used to provide food for community events, including providing free meals to police, Metro Council President David James told BuzzFeed News.

“He left a great legend behind. He was a good person. Everybody around him would say that,” his mother, Odessa Riley, told the Courier-Journal. “My son didn't hurt nobody. He didn't do nothing to nobody.”

Cover: A police woman wears a Bodycam. (Sebastian Gollnow/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)