Black Louisville Barbecue Shop Owner David McAtee Killed by Law Enforcement; LMPD Chief Fired

McAtee, known for operating a popular barbecue spot Louisville, was shot and killed after LMPD and the National Guard fired on protestors. The officers involved in the shooting were not recording the incident on their body cameras.

click to enlarge Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer - Photo: Screengrab of press conference
Photo: Screengrab of press conference
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Early Monday morning, David McAtee, known for operating popular barbecue spot Yaya's in Louisville, was shot and killed while Louisville Metro Police Department officers and the National Guard were attempting to disperse a crowd protesting the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

Former-LMPD Police Chief Steve Conrad said that officers and the guard were shot at and that they returned fire. LMPD officers identified as Katie Crews and Austin Allen and two National Guardsmen discharged their weapons. McAtee, who is black, was killed.

The Courier-Journal reported "McAtee's barbecue business is next to the Dino's Food Mart parking lot where the shooting took place around 12:15 a.m. Monday."

Crews and Allen were not recording the incident on their body cameras. They have both been placed on administrative leave and Conrad has been fired.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke to citizens on Monday regarding the tragedy.

“We had a horrible tragedy last night at 26th and Broadway. We lost a wonderful citizen named David McAtee. David was a friend to many, well-known, a barbecue man that nurtured so many people in their bellies and their hearts. For him not to be here with us today is a tragedy that is hard to put into words,” Mayor Fischer said.

Visibly emotional, Fischer acknowledged the lack of body cameras present at the incident. 

“As I learned about some of the details that happened last night, I learned that the body cameras of the officers present were not activated. This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated. Accordingly, I have relieved Steve Conrad of his duties as Chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department,” Fischer said.

Mayor Fischer then introduced deputy Chief Rob Schroeder as acting Chief of Police of the LMPD, who took the podium to comment on the tragic death of McAtee.

“I’d like to say that LMPD is deeply saddened by the death of Mr. McAtee. Over the years, he has been a good friend to the police officers of LMPD, frequently making sure officers had a good meal on their shift, and becoming a good friend to many of those same officers. At this point in the investigation into last night’s events, we do not know who shot him. 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 the soldiers who accompanied them. We are working diligently to determine what happened. The community has a lot of questions, and we share those same questions,” Schroeder said. 

Chief Schroeder also commented on the lack of body camera footage surrounding the incident.

“The two officers that fired their weapons violated our policy by either not wearing or not activating their body cameras. That is completely unacceptable, and there is no excuse for their clear failure and violation of our policy. We will review the entire incident to determine if there are any other policy violations that occurred but I assure you, we will follow up and there will be discipline for failing to utilize our cameras,” Schroeder said. 

Despite no police body camera footage to detail McAtee’s death, Louisville’s Real-Time Crime Center has footage of the incident that shows how the events unfolded, which was shared during the press conference. To compensate for the lack of body camera footage and the lack of clarity in the video that exists, Chief Schroeder will be releasing the radio transmissions from officers at the scene to give the public a better view of what transpired during the incident. 

The LMPD Public Integrity Unit, Kentucky State Police and National Guard will also all be conducting investigations into McAtee's death.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also commented on the murder in a separate press conference on Monday.

"It is unacceptable that the officers that responded last night did not have body cameras on and recording. This is the entire reason that we have those cameras and every other officer's camera should be reviewed and if they captured any part of the scene, it ought to be released,” said Beshear.

“Here’s my pledge,” Beshear stated to citizens. “Through the Kentucky State Police, which has been hard at work today at the scene, we are going to investigate this matter. It is going to be done in an honest and transparent way that will not take months. Let’s make sure that this family that is grieving today doesn’t have to wait the months that Breonna Taylor’s family has had to.”

Taylor is another black citizen whose life was lost at the hands of police. LMPD officers forced their way into Taylor's apartment early on the morning of March 13 while executing a search warrant for a narcotics investigation and shot her eight times after her boyfriend fired a gun at them. Taylor's mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit saying the officers didn't knock and the suspect wanted for the narcotics had already been arrested. They did not find drugs in Taylor's apartment. Taylor’s family was originally told by police it would take months to finalize the investigation into her death.

“We will give you the truth no matter what the truth is, no matter what it makes any group look like,” Beshear said about both McAtee's and Taylor's deaths. 

Mayor Fischer made it known he has asked for the FBI, the U.S. Attorney and the Attorney General to contribute to the case to assure all of the facts are uncovered.