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Police Chief Fired After It Turned Out Cops Didn’t Have Body Cams on During David McAtee Shooting


That’s it for Louisville police chief Steve Conrad. Mayor Greg Fischer fired him after it turned out there’s no body camera footage in the shooting death of David McAtee, 53. The law enforcement officer was already set to retire this June amid criticism of the March 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor, another African American who was shot and killed by police.

Assistant Chief of Police Robert Schroeder is now acting chief. It has been widely reported that authorities killed McAtee, though Schroeder said at a press conference Monday afternoon that they don’t know who shot him, or if it was due to a separate incident.

“Second, I want to quickly address the fact that there was no body camera of this incident,” he said. “The two officers that fired their weapons violated our policy by either not wearing, or not activating their cameras.” He called this an “unacceptable” police violation. The officers are on administrative leave.

While there’s no footage from the officers’ point of view, there is video from their “real time crime center cameras,” he said.

The alleged murder of George Floyd on camera in Minneapolis, Minnesota sparked protests nationwide. Then-police officer Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on his neck for several minutes last Monday. Floyd pleaded with him to get off of him, but eventually became unresponsive. Floyd was declared dead later that day.

Video of the incident fueled a national outcry. Louisville was no exception to seeing protests that were always fraught, and often turned violent, though local demonstrations have focused on Taylor.

In the McAtee case, authorities said law enforcement was trying to break up a group of about 100 people when shots were fired at cops. Police and National Guard members fired back.

From a statement to Law&Crime:

Around 12:15 a.m., LMPD and National Guard units, who have been working to assist LMPD with the protest, were sent to Dino’s Foodmart at 26th and Broadway to clear a large crowd. LMPD had been monitoring large crowds all night, and this was one of the last ones.

As they began work to clear the lot, shots were fired at the officers and Guard. Both LMPD and National Guard members returned fire.

One person was dead at the scene. The coroner has not yet identified the victim.

Two LMPD officers and two National Guard members opened fire, Schroeder said.

McAtee was identified as the victim by his nephew, according to The Courier Journal. He was a well known local, who ran a barbecue business who was engaged in the community and often donated food. His mother Odessa Riley said he had even given police free meals.

“My son was a good son,” she said. “All he did on that barbecue corner is try to make a dollar for himself and his family. And they come along and they killed my son.”

Conrad had said that police will be interviewing persons of interest, and are collecting body cam footage.

But that’s the thing: Police body cameras weren’t activated during the McAtee shooting.

This firing doesn’t really change Conrad’s professional fate all that much. He was already going to leave the department amid the Breonna Taylor shooting. Police executed a no-knock warrant at her home on March 13, claiming she might have been receiving packages for a drug dealer.

She was shot and killed after three officers returned fire, according to the police account. Her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, 27, was arrested at the scene for a count of attempted murder of a police officer.

At the time of Taylor’s death, police said they were issuing a search warrant at a home for a drug investigation. Assistant Police Chief Josh Judah said that suspects [plural] opened fire as officers arrived at the residence and entered, according to The Courier Journal. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly was struck in the leg, but survived.

A woman at the home (later identified as Taylor) was shot and killed after three officers returned fire, according to the police account.  Kenneth Walker’s attorney pushed back on the official account. In a March hearing, lawyer Rob Eggert claimed officers forced their way into the home without announcing their presence and opened fire at least 22 times, according to WDRB.

The prosecution dropped their case against Walker. 911 audio showed that Walker told a 911 dispatcher that someone (he didn’t know who) kicked in the door and shot his girlfriend.

Police didn’t find drugs in the residence.

[Screengrab via WLKY]

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