(LOUISVILLE) — BY: ANTHONY RIVAS
A police chief has been fired and two officers are on administrative leave after a barbecue business owner in the West End of Louisville, Kentucky, was shot dead by law enforcement trying to enforce curfew amid protests over a previous police shooting, officials said.
David McAtee, who owned YaYa’s BBQ, was shot and killed early Monday morning in the parking lot of Dino’s Food Mart on 26th and Broadway, where he normally set up his stand.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement that the Louisville Metro Police Department and National Guard were dispatched to the lot to disperse a crowd when they were fired upon and subsequently returned fire, killing McAtee.
Amid an investigation by state and local police, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he learned that the officers involved in the incident had not had their body cameras activated when the shooting occurred.
“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.”
Fischer said Assistant Chief of Police Robert Schroeder will be taking Conrad’s place.
“The two officers that fired their weapons violated our policy by either not wearing or not activating their cameras,” Schroeder said. “That is completely unacceptable and there is no excuse… We will review the entire incident to determine if there are any other policy violations that occurred. I assure you we will follow up and there will be discipline for failing to utilize our cameras.”
Schroeder said that there were two LMPD officers and two National Guardsmen involved in returning fire. The two LMPD officers, Katie Crews and Austin Allen, were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. The National Guard will also conduct its own review on its members, he said.
Although there were no body cameras, Schroeder said the police department will be releasing video of the incident from nearby cameras as well as the audio from police radio transmissions in an effort to increase transparency.
McAtee’s mother, Odessa Riley, described him to the Courier-Journal as a “community pillar” who would feed police for free. Those who knew him told the publication he would often cook for community events as well.
“David was a friend to many, well known, barbecue man,” Fischer said Monday. “[He] had nurtured so many people in their bellies, in their hearts before, and for him to be caught up in this and for him not to be with us today is a tragedy that is just hard to put into words.”
McAtee’s death comes amid protests in Louisville for Breonna Taylor, a licensed EMT, who was shot eight times while sleeping in her home by police executing a “no-knock” search warrant on March 13.
On Monday, Kentucky State Rep. Charles Booker said “our community is hurting.”
“This trauma never really seems to go away,” he said, addressing McAtee’s family and demanding justice and reforms that honor the lives of those who’ve been killed at the hands of police.
Laying out plans for what they hope to change moving forward, Fischer acknowledged that it may be hard to believe reform will happen.
“We are asking people to trust a process that they don’t trust,” he said. “And the roots of that mistrust are in the history of our country. I think that’s where again people need to have empathy for African American citizens when they say, ‘Well, just follow the process.’ The process hasn’t worked out so well. So I’m hoping that this new time of heightened awareness in our community — in our country — about these issues, we can address many of these issues.”
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