David McAtee shooting: Louisville police chief fired over fatal shooting of barbecue restaurant owner in Kentucky

  • london
  • June 2, 2020
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A police chief in Kentucky has been sacked after it emerged that officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black restaurant owner had failed to activate their body cameras.

Steve Conrad, chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, was “relieved of his duties” on Monday following the death of David McAtee, who ran a popular barbecue restaurant.

Mr McAtee was shot dead as police and National Guard officers enforced a curfew in the city amid protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

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

Officers were reportedly returning fire after being shot at from a crowd in west Louisville when Mr McAtee was struck on Monday.

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Mr Fischer also identified the victim of the shooting as David McAtee, the owner of a popular local barbecue restaurant.

“We lost a wonderful citizen,” Mr Fischer said. “David was a friend to many, a well-known barbecue man.

“They’ve nurtured so many people in their bellies and in their hearts before, and for him to be caught up in this, not to be with us today is a tragedy.”

Mr McAtee was known for giving out free food, including to police officers on duty, local media reported.

As cities across the US have been rocked by civil unrest in the wake of Mr Floyd’s death, the protests in Louisville have centred on the killing of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician who was shot dead in March when three police officers stormed her apartment during a narcotics investigation.

Mayor Fischer said deputy police chief Robert Schroeder will step in immediately as a replacement for Mr Conrad, and announced the city’s curfew was being extended until June 8.

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Mr Schroeder said police had managed to retrieve footage from crime center cameras that showed how the shooting of Mr McAtee unfolded.

“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, Mr Schroeder said. The two officers violated policy by not wearing or activating body cameras, he added, and have now been placed on administrative leave.​

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear 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.”

Mr Beshear added that 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 US Attorney has said federal authorities will join state police in investigating the shooting.