Family, Friends Mourn David McAtee At Wake Friday, Jun 12 2020 

89.3 WFPL News Louisville · Family, Friends Mourn David McAtee At WakeFamily, friends and acquaintances lined the sidewalk outside St. Stephen Church Friday afternoon to pay their respects to David “Yaya” McAtee. McAtee was a Black barbecue chef who was shot and killed by a member of the National Guard last week as authorities tried to enforce a curfew during protests over racism and police brutality.

At the door of St. Stephen Church, people were let in one-by-one to pay their respects, after having their temperature checked to screen for the coronavirus. In line was Calvin Brown, who used to visit McAtee’s shop, Yaya’s BBQ. He said McAtee was a role model for people in this West End neighborhood, where many residents grapple with poverty.

“Even if you had a record, you could still look at David McAtee and say ‘I could do what you doing,'” Brown said.

Brown said McAtee made a business, and a neighborhood institution, out of very little.

“It was a barbecue grill, a bag of charcoal and some meat. And people supported him and felt the love that he shared,” he said.

McAtee was known for giving free food to the homeless, as well as to the police.

It’s still unclear exactly what happened the night he died. According to video shared by police, National Guard and officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LPMD) arrived at the corner of 26th Street and Broadway to enforce the curfew. Soon after authorities arrived, LMPD officers began shooting pepper balls. State investigators say McAtee fired his gun, and that when police and National Guard returned fire with live rounds, a National Guard bullet struck his chest, killing him.

McAtee’s nephew, Marvin McAtee, has said he doesn’t think his uncle would ever knowingly shoot at police. On Friday, he said he doesn’t know what justice would look like for his uncle, but he’s upset the family hasn’t gotten an apology.

“There’s no justice for me because that don’t bring him back,” Marvin McAtee said.

“I can’t change what happened that day. All I can do is tell the police I just wish they came and said they sorry for what happened, because we was there for them.”

J. Tyler Franklin |

Friends and family also gathered at Yaya’s BBQ during the wake on Friday.

Marvin has inherited the barbecue shop. And he said he’s trying his best to carry on his uncle’s legacy. It helps that he can still feel his uncle’s presence.

“A couple days ago, I was doing things at the shop, and then I paused for a minute because I hear him saying to me ‘You know you ain’t doing that right,'” he said.

“I love that energy in that shop because he’s there with me. You know? I don’t even know how to explain it to you. I just feel him in me when I’m in the shop.”

Marvin and his family went inside the chapel, where McAtee’s body was dressed in a white suit, in a gold and black coffin and surrounded by flowers.

Later, the family planned to go back to Yaya’s BBQ for another celebration of the man they loved.

The funeral for David McAtee is Saturday, Jun. 13 at 1 p.m. at Canaan Christian Church.

Protesters Say ‘Breonna’s Law’ Is Only A First Step Toward Justice Friday, Jun 12 2020 

Hundreds of protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” outside the Louisville Metro Police Department Headquarters in downtown on Friday.

The protests continued as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signed into law a ban on no-knock warrants and after Gov. Andy Beshear announced a statue of Jefferson Davis will be removed from the Capitol Rotunda.

University of Louisville student and youth organizer David Echeverria said he and other demonstrators are celebrating the passage of the ordinance banning no-knock warrants, but do not believe officials have done enough to grant justice for Breonna Taylor or stymie racial injustice in the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Echeverria said protesters would like to see the officers involved in Taylor’s death fired and prosecuted, and the Louisville police defunded with the money going to impoverished communities of color.

“So we are just demanding that police officers are fired, arrested and charged in Breonna Taylor’s case and that the police department is defunded with the upcoming budget being proposed,” Echeverria said.

Protesters with Black Lives Matter Louisville began the demonstration at 2 p.m. at the Great Lawn of Louisville’s Waterfront Park. There, organizers passed out chants for the day including:

Harriet Tubman was a freedom fighter / and she taught us how to fight / We’re gonna fight all day and night / Until we get it right / Which side are you on my people, Which side are you on?

The refrain “Which Side Are You On” was originally written by the daughter of a union-organizing coal miner during the Harlan County War. It’s been riffed on at protests ever since, including Civil Rights protests in the 1960s.

Before the march began, an organizer called on the crowd to be peaceful, but also emphasized that continuing civil disobedience was necessary to meet their demands. Protesters marched through downtown streets with bikers riding ahead to block traffic at intersections.

Ahead of the march, helping to organize and inspire, walked Neal Robertson, People for Justice president. At one point, Robertson helped to make sure an ambulance could get through the road blocks ahead of the crowd.

“Man the people are speaking. You hear their mouths loud and clear. They’re calling out Breonna Taylor. They’re calling out George Floyd. They’re calling out David McAtee. And guess what? They’re are so many more names,” Robertson said.

Ryan Van Velzer |

Robertson called recent accomplishments “crumbs off a piece of pizza.” He said real change has to be economic. Robertson said it has to fix the economic inequality created by systemic racism.

“We’re fighting for economic change,” he said, adding that he also supports defunding the police and reallocating funding to West End communities.

In front of Metro Hall, organizers had the crowd of several hundred lock arms and stand for eight minutes of silence in solidarity with George Floyd. Afterward, an organizer on a megaphone lined up black and brown protesters on the inside with white protesters on the outside of the crowd then marched toward LMPD Headquarters.

Outside LMPD, protesters chanted Black Lives Matter and other slogans before peacefully walking around the corner and returning to Jefferson Square Park.

Beshear Says He Doesn’t Regret Sending National Guard To Louisville Wednesday, Jun 10 2020 

Gov. Andy Beshear says he doesn’t regret sending the National Guard to Louisville to assist with the city’s response to protests over racism and police violence.

The National Guard was in Louisville starting on Saturday May 30, and on early Monday morning two National Guardsmen were involved in the shooting death of local barbecue chef David McAtee, who state and police officials say fired first.

The incident has sparked outrage from people across the city, state and country already protesting police violence against Black people.

During a press briefing Wednesday, Beshear said he felt justified in sending the National Guard to Louisville because of “significant damage and real concerns for violence” during the first two days of protests.

“At that point, I believe the guard was necessary and what could’ve happened[…]it was important to have them there,” Beshear said.

After dispersing protests in downtown Louisville Sunday night, a group of National Guard and Louisville police officers were sent to clear a crowd gathered at 26th and Broadway in west Louisville, where McAtee’s restaurant is located.

LMPD officials have said that McAtee was first to shoot and that National Guard and police officers returned fire. Louisville police officers who fired on McAtee didn’t activate their body cameras, according to police, which is a violation of policy.

State officials revealed on Tuesday that McAtee was killed by a single bullet that was shot out of a National Guard rifle.

Beshear said on Wednesday that he is committed to conducting a transparent investigation into McAtee’s death.

“Hopefully by the end of that, everybody can look at that and make conclusions both to the incident itself and if they want to evaluate my call on the National Guard,” Beshear said.

Beshear said he was not involved in the decision to send National Guard troops to west Louisville, but rather that decision was made by “LMPD and folks on the ground.”

He said he would like to have more control over where the National Guard is deployed once they are on the ground.

“Having more direct access to that information on an ongoing basis is certainly something I want to see,” Beshear said.

When asked about calls to “defund the police,” Beshear said he doesn’t believe in reducing funding to law enforcement, but instead increasing funding to social services and mental health treatment.

“This concept of defunding the police I don’t think is as much about taking dollars away from law enforcement,” Beshear said. “We throw law enforcement at problems that even law enforcement feel they shouldn’t be addressing.”

With Police Union Contract Under Negotiation, Fischer Could Push For Changes Friday, Jun 5 2020 

During a week when thousands have taken to Louisville’s streets in protest, many have pressed a demand on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and police leaders — fire the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.

But Fischer and others have pointed to due process requirements for officers — some set in state law, others in a union contract — in saying there is no quick or easy action they can take to discipline the officers without a thorough investigation.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed by plainclothes Louisville Metro police detectives in March, who burst into her home to serve a search warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend has said he thought the home was getting broken into when he fired a shot and struck an officer in the leg; the officers’ return shots killed Taylor. 

Her death sparked national outrage and was a catalyst for the recent protests that have erupted in Louisville and across the rest of the nation.

But so far, city officials have said firing the officers involved in her killing isn’t an option, at least for now.

“It would cost our city even more money and the end result is the same, the officer remains on the job,” Fischer said. “It would represent a lack of integrity.”

Fischer said the officers are protected by the police department’s collective bargaining agreement and state laws, which require a certain process to be followed before an officer can be terminated. Violating that process, Fischer said, would lead to consequences: the officers would be reinstated and they could file a suit and perhaps be entitled to lost wages and damages.

Speaking to protesters earlier this week outside his office at Metro Hall, a chorus of jeers and boos broke out as Fischer tried to explain how his hands are tied.

“If I could change anything, I would,” he said.

Contract Up For Negotiation, Still

Fischer does have the chance to push for changes in the union contract, which is currently under negotiation.

The city’s collective bargaining agreement with the River City Fraternal Order of Police expired in June 2018. It has been continuously renewed since, as the two entities work to come to an agreement, said Jean Porter, a spokesperson for the mayor.

Porter did not respond to follow-up questions about what changes Fischer would support in the contract, which currently exempts officers from termination without cause.

Ryan Nichols, the police union president, said everything is on the table during the negotiation process, and Fischer could certainly try to remove that provision. 

“But we would push back on that,” Nichols said.

He said the current agreement does not include specific language that prohibits officers from being terminated while they are part of a pending investigation, though the effect is largely the same. Instead, the contract aims to give officers due process. The agreement requires the police chief to give a reason for any discipline against an officer — that reason must be backed up by evidence, and the evidence is the product of the investigative process, Nichols said.

Louisville Metro Government

“This is just all about due process,” Nichols said. “Arbitrarily, police officers can’t just be fired.”

And the contract effectively mirrors state law. So even if the contract changes, officers would still have protection from possible termination amid a pending investigation. 

Changing the law requires legislation. State Rep. Charles Booker, a Democrat from Louisville, said he intends to file legislation to change the provisions that protect officers from being fired before investigations are complete. 

“In these type of extreme circumstances, law enforcement officers can be fired, and should be,” he said. “We don’t need any more excuses.”

Lisa Gillespie |

Fischer was asked what changes he’d support to the law during a virtual press conference Thursday, but did not directly address the question. Instead, he said he is working to establish a working group for “civilian review” and he said suggestions from that group will guide his advocacy for changes in state law.

“I’ll await direction from our commission before I pursue that,” he said. 

These provisions are typical protections for police unions to seek out in contract negotiations, said Stephen Nasta, an adjunct professor with John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Nasta, a former inspector with the New York City Police Department, said eliminating such a key element from the contract is certainly possible, but it’s a tough ask of police representatives.

“They might be willing to give up a raise or something, but I don’t know if that would work,” Nasta said.

Even then, Nasta said firing an officer prior to an investigation being complete is risky because the facts of the investigation could exonerate the officer, making the city liable for financial blowback and losing officer goodwill.

But in some cases, Nasta said quickly terminating an officer is the best move. For instance, the police officers in Minneapolis who killed George Floyd acted so flagrantly that “it cried out for some type of immediate attention,” he said.

Those officers were fired shortly after Floyd’s death and now face criminal charges.

“I would say probably 99 percent of police officers that saw that would say the mayor did the right thing by firing them,” Nasta said. 

In Louisville, the three officers that fired on Taylor are all on administrative leave with pay, according to a police spokesperson. All three, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, are white.

David James, the president of the Louisville Metro Council, said he knows some residents don’t feel good about seeing the officers continue to be paid. But, he also is waiting for more facts to be available before calling for any discipline. 

James, a former LMPD detective and police union president, said he suspects Fischer is privy to more details than he has released to the public. Those details, James said, could be guiding Fischer’s response to the calls to fire the officers before the investigation is complete.

Nichols, the current police union president, said Fischer’s comments that seem to support firing the officers — how he doesn’t like the state law that provides officers protections and how he wishes he could change things — are out of line.

“He should just say, ‘We’re going to investigate this and if they did something wrong then they will be disciplined appropriately,’” Nichols said. “Let them be fairly judged.”

In most cases, officers receive the due process promised them in their contracts, which often provide exceptional protections for police, said Samuel Walker, an emeritus professor at University of Nebraska’s school of criminology and criminal justice.

Walker said the due process provisions are standard in police contracts. Pushing police unions to give them up is almost like a fool’s errand, he said.

“Why would you give up the protection you have and agree you can be fired immediately?” he said.

Generally, Walker said police union contracts include an array of provisions that create impediments to accountability. And many deserve to be scrutinized and questioned before they are ratified.

“There needs to be more sunlight on the contract negotiations,” he said.

Walker pointed to the recent study of police union contracts completed by Campaign Zero, an activist-led organization that’s focused on ending police violence. The study examined 81 police contracts from across the nation and found that many contained provisions that give officers unfair advantages in investigations or limit oversight, among other issues. Of the six categories of so-called “problematic language” identified by the group, Louisville’s contract included all six. 

Among them is the provision that officers get 48-hour notice before they are interrogated about alleged misconduct, and that they also must receive a copy of any complaint against them before being interrogated. Prior disciplinary actions against officers are prohibited from being used as consideration for subsequent discipline after a certain amount of time elapses. 

Walker was surprised to hear the city’s police contract included all of the provisions highlighted by the Campaign Zero group.

“That’s not good,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Gov. Beshear Says He Will ‘Reduce’ National Guard In Louisville Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

In the wake of the death of 53-year-old David McAtee, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday announced he’s “reducing the National Guard presence in Louisville.” 

“I want to ensure the people of Kentucky know I’m listening,” Beshear said during his daily briefing, adding that was a recommendation by the state’s adjutant general.

Beshear said he understands that there’s a “real sensitivity” to having them here, but that he stands by his decision to call them in. 

“I believe that the Guard has been necessary, that there was a potential, especially going into Saturday night, where there were some real concerns and information out there,” he said. “I call them in solely to try to ensure that people are safe.”

Beshear said he’s approved a critical incident response team from Kentucky State Police — a unit that looks into police shootings around the state — to investigate the Monday shooting  at 26th and Broadway. During the incident, McAtee was fired at by Louisville Metro Police and the National Guard. McAtee died at the scene.

“I’ve told them that it must be fast, and it must be thorough,” Beshear said of KSP’s investigation.

LMPD on Tuesday released surveillance footage from the scene of the shooting that they say shows McAtee fired at officers first. There’s no police body cam footage because the officers involved in the shooting did not have their cameras turned on. 

Beshear called for the release of any and all footage connected to McAtee’s death. 

“And I said yesterday, there ought to be body cam footage,” Beshear said. “But any footage ought to be released so that people can watch it, and people can see with their own eyes and make determinations.”

One reporter asked him what kind of changes he would make to policing procedures. Beshear responded by saying that “we shouldn’t accept a world where we know that people feel unsafe around those who are hired to keep us all safe.” 

“I believe we’ve got to look at all of the concerns that are there… and when something happens, like it did in Louisville to Breonna Taylor, like it did in Minnesota [to George Floyd], you got to look at policies, you got to look at changing things,” he said. “If a tragedy happens, you’ve got to learn from it. You can’t repeat it.”

Though Beshear didn’t offer any specifics on what exactly he would change.

Later in the briefing, he said he hopes they can fully pull the National Guard out of Louisville in the near future.

Preliminary Findings On McAtee Death

The secretary of the governor’s Executive Cabinet, J. Michael Brown, shared some preliminary details from the investigation into McAtee’s death. 

“First results of an autopsy seemed to indicate that Mr. McAtee succumbed to a single gunshot wound to the chest,” Brown said. “But tests on bullet fragments will have to be conducted at the Kentucky State Police crime lab to see if we can determine exactly what type of bullet he was struck by.” 

He said they believe that Louisville police and the National Guard fired 18 shots. 

Approximately 13 people, who were near McAtee when he was shot, have been interviewed, Brown said, and investigators have taken gunshot residue samples. 

“None of these results are back yet,” he said. “They’re all very new and they were all preliminarily interviewed.”

They recovered “a total of seven weapons, six handguns, one shotgun.”

“We are going to look to see which, if any, of them have been discharged,” Brown said. “We clearly believe at least one of them was discharged and [will] try to match up those weapons with any of the shell casings that were found in the facility.”

Brown said surveillance videos released Tuesday by LMPD with also be reviewed by state police.

“That review will continue in great detail, frame by frame, to further get a better indication of exactly what the sequence of events, and in fact, we hope to go through a very laborious practice of trying to match up those videos with any other videos that were done either by civilian or security cameras,“ he said. 

Brown said they’ll release updates “as appropriate” since the investigation is ongoing. 

U of L’s Black Student Union addresses demands in letter to university officials Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville’s Black Student Union released a statement on May 31 calling for U of L and the University of Louisville Police Department to discontinue its partnership with the Louisville Metro Police Department. This comes after days of protests in Louisville for the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“The relationship between ULPD and LMPD was described as ‘fruitful,’ and while that may be the case in regard to ‘safeguarding the assets of the university’–that is not the case when it comes to students, faculty and staff,” BSU President Maliya Homer said. “Nothing about being in closer proximity to state sanctioned violence makes us any safer.”

ULPD Police Chief Gary Lewis said the relationship between the two departments has gone back as far as the 1970s.

“As the years have gone by, the personnel strength of ULPD has grown which has enhanced the ability to handle all law enforcement related duties on our campuses,” Lewis said.

One of the resources Lewis said the partnership with  LMPD provides is the Real Time Crime Center, or RTCC. “Information gathered can be shared with law enforcement agencies across all of Jefferson County, to include ULPD,” Lewis said.

The student union is also calling for the university to rename the Overseer’s Honor’s House. Homer told the Cardinal she called for the renaming because the word “overseer” was once used as a term to refer to the middleman in plantation hierarchy.

U of L Director of Communications John Karman said the word is being removed from the building’s name.

“The University changed the name of its Board of Overseers last year to the President’s Council for the same reason,” Karman said. “Overseers is being removed from the Honors House name.”

“We’re demanding that the university respond with the same swiftness that they protected the ‘Free Speech Zone’ for people not affiliated with the university to taunt and harass students, staff and faculty for hours on end,” Homer said.

U of L has yet to respond to the BSU’s demands; however, Karman said the university and ULPD are aware of the BSU’s demands and are currently reviewing them.

“We will not settle for a flippant response filled with superfluous excuses and platitudes–we deserve so much more than that. Breonna deserves so much more than that,” Homer said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Mayor And LMPD Say Video Shows David McAtee Fired First Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

City officials on Tuesday afternoon released surveillance video footage they said appeared to show that David McAtee, the man shot and killed by law enforcement early Monday, fired a gun before he was shot.

Mayor Greg Fischer said he showed the video to McAtee’s family before releasing the video to the public during a press conference.

One video was from inside McAtee’s store, Yaya’s BBQ, and showed McAtee and several other people walk in and out of the building as police officers and National Guard arrived on the scene. McAtee appeared early in the video to be carrying a spatula or tongs as he prepared food.

After several people come in at once, the video shows McAtee, 53, lean out the door. When he came back in, he collapsed on the ground. A woman next to him points to an object on the ground.

“Mr. McAtee appears to fire at the officers and the officers take cover and return fire,” said Maj. Paul Humphrey.

Neither video has any sound. But without the audio, Humphey said, they don’t have all the information yet.

“It appears right now from the footage” that he fired first, Humphrey said. When asked if there was a gun found on McAtee, Humphrey said that will come out as the investigation continues.

Humphrey said he doesn’t yet know why the officers approached McAtee’s restaurant. The officers who fired their weapons have not been interviewed yet; Humphrey says that’s typical because they usually have legal counsel present.

He said there’s no information yet about who McAtee was allegedly firing at.

An LMPD spokesperson declined to provide timestamp information about at which point in the videos the shots were fired.

A second video angle shows the officers approaching his building before the shooting and firing pepper balls.

Police who responded to the Dino’s Food Mart at 12:15 a.m. Monday did not activate their body cameras and there is no footage from the perspective of the officers.

McAtee, owner and operator of Yaya’s BBQ in west Louisville, was shot early Monday at the intersection of 26th and Broadway in the Russell neighborhood in the wake of days of protests over the death of Breonna Taylor by LMPD.

Fischer fired Police Chief Steve Conrad on Monday, and both Fischer and Gov. Andy Beshear said the lack of body camera footage was unacceptable.

Assistant Chief Robert Schroeder is now in command of Louisville Metro Police.

The city’s 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. curfew has been extended until June 8.

This story has been updated, and will continue to be updated as more information is available.

Louisville basketball staff member arrested during protests Monday, Jun 1 2020 

By Cole Emery–

University of Louisville’s Director of Basketball Operations Kahil Fennel was one of more than 30 people arrested Saturday night during the Louisville protests over the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

The police report for Fennell stated he violated the city’s curfew order. Mayor Greg Fischer’s executive order created a curfew for all citizens in Jefferson county, which began at 9 p.m. Fennell was officially booked at 8:58 p.m. local time.

Head coach Chris Mack said in a statement he was aware of the arrest.

“I stand by Kahil,” Mack said. “Who could watch George Floyd die on the street and not think ‘What in the hell is wrong with people?’ I just can’t comprehend that kind of treatment to anyone, it feels like our country is going backwards.”

Fennell’s arrest occurred during protests that have sparked up in cities throughout the country over the past week. Many of the protests are in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American who died while in police custody in Minneapolis. Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in March by three officers in Louisville, causing more protests in Louisville.

Fennell is going into his third season on the Cardinal staff after working as a junior varsity high school coach in 2014-15. Before coming to Louisville, he was an assistant at Portland State.

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