LOUISVILLE, KY – Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad was one month away from retirement, slated to do so on July 1st. Instead, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired him in Monday, effective immediately. Here is what happened.
At around 12:15 a.m. on Monday, June 1st, officers from the Louisville Metro Police and soldiers from the Kentucky National Guard were said to have fatally shot an individual after officers were shot at while trying to disperse a large crowd.
JUST IN: Man shot dead in Louisville after police & KY Nat'l Guard “returned fire” while clearing crowd in parking lot early Mon, police chief says; officers & soldiers "began to clear" lot and "were shot at,” he says; did not specify who fired fatal shot. https://t.co/KUM9ICaSHn
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 1, 2020
The details thus far are extremely limited, but officials have released the identity of the deceased as David McAtee, the owner of YaYa’s BBQ.
Officials are still investigating who fired the fatal shot. According to the mayor’s office, two officers who fired their weapons have been placed on leave.
“McAtee’s mother, Odessa Riley, told reporters that her son had a reputation for being kind and hospitable to police. ‘He fed all the policemen,’ she said. ‘Police would go in there and talk with him and be with him. He fed the police. He fed them free. All he did on the barbecue corner was trying to make a dollar for himself.'”
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) May 29, 2020
According to LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, this was the synopsis of the event:
“Officers and soldiers began to clear the lot and at some point were shot at. Both LMPD and National Guard members returned fire, we have one man dead at scene”
Governor Andy Beshear also mentioned the matter, essentially mirroring the version of events provided by Chief Conrad in statement on Twitter.
Statement from Governor Andy Beshear: pic.twitter.com/MyHxcE3Ntn
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) June 1, 2020
Governor Beshear also noted that there’s going to an independent investigation into the incident conducted by the Kentucky State Police.
The state enacted a curfew on May 31st, that was intended to have the streets cleared out by 9:00 p.m. that evening.
Clearly, the effort took hours when engaging on various crowds. Police are said to be collecting video evidence into the investigation of the shooting and are interviewing numerous “persons of interest.”
On Monday morning, the Beshear called for a release of police body camera footage. It was discovered that some of the officers involved in the shooting did not activate their cameras. Ultimately, the mayor used this as the deciding factor to fire Conrad, who had served as Chief of the LMPD for eight years.
“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” said Fischer, who later added that “an immediate change in leadership is required.”
The ‘institutional failure” that Fischer is referring to stemmed from a previous officer involved shooting. The protests that were taking place in Kentucky for the past week were not only fueled by the death of George Floyd, but greatly exacerbated by the death of 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor.
She was shot and killed by LMPD officers who were serving a “no-knock warrant on her home.
The officers involved in that incident were not required to have body cameras, as they were part of the Criminal Interdiction Unit. That policy has since been revised.
But the mayor decided that since these officers did not activate their cameras, the chief was an ineffective leader and had to go.
The governor echoed those sentiments.
“Two incidences of this significance, no body cameras — it had to happen,” Beshear said. “It was the right move.”
In an evening press briefing, Beshear said he hopes that Louisville protesters see that “steps are being taken” and that they know he recognizes some of the facts that have come out about McAtee’s fatal shooting were “not acceptable.”
“Before people can have trust that we will work for change, they’ve got to see that things make you mad, too,” he said. “People need to know that you care, that you’re vested, that you’re committed to doing what’s right. Now is a chance to get things right. And I hope those tonight can believe in that sincerity and can give us that opportunity.”
The LMPD has had no activity on its social media platforms since May 30, and Law Enforcement Today was unable to find any comments by the department regarding the chief’s dismissal or its interim chief.
“Ryan Nichols, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police representing Louisville Metro Police officers, said he didn’t know all of Fischer’s specific reasons for firing Conrad but said he doubts it will be a ‘magic bullet’ to quell protesters.
“‘If it helps in any way, then that’s good,’ Nichols said.”
The Courier-Journal story about Conrad’s firing continued:
“The Louisville native began with the Louisville Police Department as a patrol officer in 1980, rising to assistant chief in what later became Louisville Metro Police, before leaving to head the police force in Glendale, Arizona.
“He took over as chief of Louisville Metro Police in 2012. During his tenure, he was praised for some transparency efforts, but support eroded amid a spiking murder rate.
“The Fraternal Order of Police and Louisville Metro Council cast no-confidence votes in his leadership in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
“On top of the homicides, the department faced scandals that included the revelation that officers had sexually assaulted teens in the department’s youth Explorer Scout program.
“A report by a former U.S. attorney found ‘violations of police and mistakes in judgment, some significant’ by department leaders. It also reported that Conrad aborted an investigation into one of the officers, allowing him to resign instead of be fired.”
The mayor’s office also stated that Conrad would receive pay for any days he had accrued and the firing would not impact his pension eligibility.
Below is the LMPD audio of the shooting and the moments following.
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