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Louisville police chief fired in aftermath of fatal shooting

PTI | Louisville | Updated: 02-06-2020 06:47 IST | Created: 02-06-2020 06:47 IST
Louisville police chief fired in aftermath of fatal shooting

Louisville's police chief was fired Monday after the mayor learned that officers involved in a shooting that killed the popular owner of a barbecue spot failed to activate body cameras during the chaotic scene. David McAtee, known for offering meals to police officers, died early Monday while police officers and National Guard soldiers were enforcing a curfew amid waves of protests over a previous police shooting in Kentucky's largest city. Police said they were responding to gunfire from a crowd.

The US attorney said federal authorities will join state police in investigating the fatal shooting. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer revealed that authorities lacked body camera video for the investigation just hours after Kentucky's governor demanded the release of police video.

"This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated," Fischer said. "Accordingly, I have relieved Steve Conrad of his duties as chief of Louisville Metro Police Department." Governor Andy Beshear later 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." Beshear authorized state police to independently investigate the shooting. He pledged the probe will be conducted in an "honest and transparent way that will not take months." US Attorney Russell Coleman announced that federal authorities will be part of the investigation.

"We understand this community's need for answers and we will assess all the information, and will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law," Coleman's office said. The governor said 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 shakeup at the top of the city's police department came a month earlier than expected. Conrad had previously announced his resignation, which was to take effect at the end of June. Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder will step in immediately as chief, Fischer said.

The mayor also said the city's curfew was being extended until June 8. Police did retrieve video from crime centre cameras that showed how the shooting unfolded, Schroeder said.

"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, he said. The two officers violated policy by not wearing or activating body cameras, Schroeder said, adding they have been placed on administrative leave.

McAtee, whose YaYa's BBQ Shack is near where the shooting occurred, was mourned by hundreds of people who returned to the site hours afterward. Christopher 2X, an anti-violence activist and executive director of the group Game Changers, said McAtee was well-liked.


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