A Louisville, Kentucky barbecue restaurant owner lost his life due to police response over a curfew violation. Since the officers involved did not have their body cameras activated, the police chief lost his job. David McAtee, 53, the African-American owner of YaYa’s BBQ, was shot and killed in the early hours of June 1 when police responded to a curfew violation at 26th and Broadway.
When officials asked police chief Steve Conrad to release the body camera video, they were informed the officers did not turn them on. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Governor Andy Beshear expressed outrage, and Conrad was relieved of command. “This kind of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” said Fischer at a news conference.
After Beshear first learned of the shooting, taking place in the midst of protests, he urged police to make the body camera footage available immediately to ensure transparency. Beshear hoped issuing the body cam footage would help quell unrest, only to find out no such footage existed.
According to now-former police chief Conrad, the police were shot at first, and McAtee was killed by a shot fired in response. The two police officers who fired their weapons are currently on administrative leave while local and state authorities investigate. It is not clear whether their body cameras were turned off or if they were not wearing them. Conrad was scheduled to retire later this month.
Along with the National Guard, Louisville Police responded to reports of a crowd gathering near a gas station in the West End. The Louisville curfew was 9 p.m. The crowd gathered to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a Louisville EMT shot and killed by the police in March in her own home. Police had broken down the door in the act of executing a “no knock” warrant. After Taylor’s death, police in Louisville were required to wear body cameras at all times.
However, some of the attendees denied there was a protest, saying it was simply a line to McAtee’s barbeque. His business was one of the most popular eateries in the area. McAtee was also known for donating time and food for a variety of community events. He was remembered as a generous working man who was an integral part of the neighborhood. According to his mother, McAtee often fed police for free.
On June 2, Louisville police released videos taken from McAtee’s restaurant surveillance camera and an adjacent business. Neither video has audio. The first video shows McAtee carrying cooking utensils. Perhaps 12 people head into his restaurant via an open door. McAtee is seen reaching outside, then clutches his chest and collapses.
The second video appears to show police officers shooting towards the restaurant door, but the screen door hides the figure at which they are shooting. The interim chief of the Louisville Police Department, Rob Schroeder, says the video “does not provide all the answers” regarding the McAtee shooting.
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