Louisville was on edge Monday after the shooting death of a black barbecue stand owner overnight.
In the hours that followed the killing of David McAtee, 53, the city’s mayor, Greg Fischer, fired the city’s police chief Steve Conrad. And the mayor revealed that officers who reported to the incident had not activated their body cameras.
McAtee was killed after law enforcement and Kentucky National Guard troops arrived at the barbecue stand to disburse a large crowd that was violating the city’s curfew. Authorities “returned” fire after someone in the crowd opened fire, police said.
Before he was dismissed, Conrad said that 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 the scene.”
Still, law enforcement has not said definitively that McAtee was killed by their fire.
On Monday, Conrad’s interim replacement Robert Schroeder said authorities didn’t know who fatally shot McAtee.
“At this point in the investigation into last night’s events, we do not know who shot him,” Schroeder said. “We do not know if it was related to a separate incident, if it was due to the shots fired by our officers and the National Guardsmen and soldiers that accompanied them. We are working diligently to determine what happened.”
McAtee operated YaYa’s BBQ and was known as a community pillar who fed police and others for free, according to multiple local reports.
“For him to be caught up in this, and for him not to be with us today is a tragedy that’s just hard to put into words,” Fischer said at a press briefing Monday.
McAtee is the second African American Louisvillian killed in a police shooting in recent weeks whose death has rocked the country: Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was shot and killed by police during a no-knock raid in March.
The city recently instituted a 9 p.m. curfew in light of the anti-police brutality protests spurred by Taylor’s death, and by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said Monday that state police were investigating the incident. He called for authorities to release all available video from the scene “long before nightfall.”
“I’m not asking people to trust our account, and I want to see it myself,” Beshear said.
“There was no protesting or anything and no critical infrastructure to be protected there,” Louisville Metro Council David James told BuzzFeed News, adding: “I hope the person who is beloved figure in the community was not killed over the curfew.”
According to several local reports, McAtee’s body remained at the scene of the shooting hours after it occurred Monday.
Mayor Fischer visited the scene Monday to meet with McAtee’s grieving family, according to video from the Courier-Journal: