Retiring Louisville Police Chief Faces Council Questions On Protest Response Monday, Sep 28 2020 

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In about four hours of open testimony to the Metro Councils government oversight committee, outgoing Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder painted a picture of stress and confusion that marked his brief tenure at the top of the department.

Schroeder, who has avoided speaking publicly to council under oath since early August, conceded Monday after an appeals court denial earlier in the day. Last week, a circuit court judge ruled he could have been held in contempt if he did not testify by Monday. He is set to retire Thursday.

Committee members say they intend to focus future investigative efforts on the shooting deaths of Breonna Taylor, killed by police, and David McAtee, killed by members of the National Guard. For now, the committee is focusing on the official response to protests following the deaths of Taylor and McAtee. After Schroeder retires, it is unlikely he will return since committee subpoenas may only apply to active city employees.


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Large Mural That Includes Faces of Breonna Taylor, David McAtee Unveiled Sunday, Jul 5 2020 

A new mural that includes the faces of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee now stands at the corner of 11th and Main streets in Louisville.

The mural was officially unveiled Sunday. Taylor and McAtee appear alongside other Black people killed by law enforcement, including George Floyd, Elijah McClain and Sandra Bland, as well as Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot to death while jogging. Two white men are charged with his murder.

Braylyn Resko Stewart is one of the three artists who painted the mural, along with Whitney Holbourn and Andrew Norris. Stewart said the artists worked for weeks to design and eventually paint the scene, which covers the entire side of the building housing Trifecta Event Productions and is visible from the expressway.

Jared Bennett | wfpl.org

The artists Andrew Norris, Braylyn Resko Stewart and Whitney Holbourn.

Stewart said they wanted the work to be large so that visitors or passersby will be “engulfed” by the faces of victims of police and racist violence.

“By being engulfed by the size and scope of the mural, maybe it will humble yourself a little bit, and take yourself back and realize that these are big beautiful faces on the wall. They are not faces of anger or fear or anything negative,” Stewart said. “We want this to be pure love, we want you to smile back as soon as you see it.”

The No Justice No Peace Louisville Choir celebrated the occasion with an original song meant to encourage people fighting for racial justice.

Choir member Natalie Witherspoon said the song was a complement to the new piece of street art. The faces on the mural made Witherspoon think of other works of public art such as the painting of Breonna Taylor on a basketball court in Annapolis, Maryland. She hopes the new mural here will inspire more people “to do justice and do justice work everywhere with whatever tools you have to use.”

Jared Bennett | wfpl.org

The No Justice No Peace Choir.

The combination of music and visual art make Witherspoon think of the collective effort people across the country are making to ensure a new voice of protest gets heard.

“Wherever people have space with whatever medium that they have that they are using it to send a collective message is grand and it is one that everybody can see,” Witherspoon said.

LMPD Report On Police Shootings Doesn’t Name Breonna Taylor, David McAtee Wednesday, Jun 17 2020 

Once or twice a year, the Louisville Metro Police Department releases data on incidents when an LMPD officer fired their weapon or was fired upon.

It’s a step towards transparency that many other police departments have not taken; however, the most recent report contains several omissions and errors that policing experts say limit the dataset’s usefulness.

The report, dated June 10, includes an entry for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, but her name is not in it. Two men shot by police this month, David McAtee and another man they haven’t named, are also left out, though the new report was issued because LMPD officers were involved in new shootings. Three individuals killed by LMPD in 2018 are also omitted from the update.

The analysis inaccurately indicates that no police shootings occurred over a seven-year period, skewing the 3.7-a-year average of shootings it claims. It also includes those years in its assessment that shootings result from 0.00002% of LMPD’s citizen contacts.

LMPD report

(Click this link to download the report.)

Representatives from LMPD and the mayor’s office have not responded to questions submitted Monday about the database.

David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, says the report from LMPD is a step in the right direction, despite its flaws, and he applauds LMPD for releasing some information.

No national database of police shootings currently exists. The Washington Post and the Guardian maintain databases of fatal police shootings, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has created a voluntary program to collect data on use of force by police officers.

But the irregularities in LMPD’s report underscore the need for a national standard for collecting data about police shootings, Harris said, so that the public can better understand one of the most extreme powers of government.

“The public quite simply has a right to know when agents of the Commonwealth of Kentucky are using, or attempting to use, deadly force on its citizens,” Harris said. “We should know that, as members of the public. Here we are as Americans walking around essentially blind to this problem until [media] step into the breach.”

The LMPD issued the latest report on its website after nearly two weeks of widespread protests prompted by the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed by plain-clothes detectives serving a no-knock warrant at her apartment. The report also came 10 days after law enforcement shot and killed McAtee at his barbecue stand in the West End. 

Over the last two weeks, the refrain from protesters has been, “Say her name: Breonna Taylor.” After McAtee’s death, protesters began chanting his name as well. Neither is named in this data.

Database Structure Could Obscure Hurt Bystanders

The report includes a database of police shootings going back to 2011. Entries detail the name, race and sex of the suspect and officers involved, and a narrative description of the event. None of the columns indicate if the suspect was the same person who shot at — or was shot by — police.

The narrative for March 13 says that officers executing a search warrant “were met by gunfire from within the residence.” 

“Multiple officers returned fire. One subject was taken into custody and another subject was killed during the incident,” it said. 

Kate Howard | wfpl.org

Kenneth Walker is the named suspect, and he told police he fired the shot that hit one detective in the leg. He was not shot when police returned fire. Taylor, the person killed in the police shooting, is not named.

Harris said it appears the database is structured to focus on the individual who is the target of enforcement. He said structuring the data this way isn’t necessarily a problem, but it could gloss over key information when a bystander is killed.

“If you key your data to the target of your enforcement and somebody else is killed, you are going to lose information that’s important — not the least of which is the fact that a different person was killed,” Harris said. “That, in itself, is an important piece of data.”

Taylor Family

That’s similar to the circumstances of Taylor’s case. Walker said he believed they were being robbed when he shot at plain-clothes officers entering the dark apartment in the middle of the night. Taylor, who had been sleeping, was killed in the hallway. Walker was initially charged with attempted murder and assault, but Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced late last month he was dropping the charges, pending further investigation by the FBI and Kentucky Attorney General’s office.

The LMPD report is dated the day after the agency released a nearly blank, inaccurate incident report that listed Taylor’s injuries as “none.” LMPD later issued a statement saying the inaccuracies were due to a problem with the reporting program that created the file.

Missing Cases And Rise In Police Shootings

Kate Howard | wfpl.org

The report also includes statistical data on shootings by month and year, going back to 2003.

This data says no “officer-involved shooting” cases were opened from 2003-10, though a KyCIR review of media reports found LMPD officers shot at least 10 people in those years.

LMPD’s report would indicate that its officers have been involved in 68 shootings since 2003. Nearly half of the shootings in that timeframe have occurred since 2018. 

It breaks the number of shootings out by division, though it’s unclear if that reflects where the shooting occurred or which personnel was involved.

The suspect was Black in 63% of those shootings, according to the report.

John DeCarlo is a professor at the University of New Haven and former police chief of Branford Police Department.

DeCarlo said that gap from 2003 to 2010 could skew any analysis of the data. But, DeCarlo said, the data LMPD has released after 2011 clearly shows a rise in police shootings in recent years.

“What we are seeing is this big spike, and you have to ask yourself why. Why is it going up?” DeCarlo said.

Last year, LMPD said it opened investigations into 16 incidents where an officer shot at suspects or was shot at, the highest number by far since 2011. So far this year, LMPD has already recorded eight police shootings.

DeCarlo said police departments should collect more data and use the information they have to determine why shootings appear to be on the rise in Louisville. 

“Any transparency is certainly a step in the right direction. The US as a whole is way behind the data curve,” DeCarlo said. “Police are the only organization in the United States that can not only take away your freedom, but use lethal force on you.”

According to LMPD’s report, internal investigations are still open for at least 37 shootings. But the data omits several cases.

In Likely Formatting Error, Some Deaths Left Out

Three people killed by LMPD in 2018 were not included in LMPD’s most recent database report. 

In February 2018, LMPD officers shot and killed two men riding in a car after someone in the car shot at police. Billy Ray Riggs and Alexander Simpson were killed in the shooting, but only Simpson is included in the database.

Benjamin Kennedy was killed after firing at LMPD officers in November 2018 and is not on the list.

Raad Fakhri Salman, who was killed in July 2018, is also not included. 

Salman and Kennedy were included in previous versions of the report, including one released in May. 

LMPD didn’t respond to questions about it, but it appears those names may have been left off during the conversion process. These cases were the last on the list in 2018, and the June 10 report is the first LMPD released in a PDF format instead of an Excel spreadsheet. 

LMPD’s report includes eight police shootings so far this year, but only included the narratives for six.

Courtesy Jerry McBroom

Chef David McAtee

The narrative description of the June 1 shooting of David McAtee is not included in the report. Two LMPD officers and two Kentucky National Guard members shot at McAtee when they went to 26th and Broadway to break up a crowd violating curfew. Police said McAtee shot at officers; the LMPD officers who shot back did not activate their body cameras, in violation of LMPD policy. 

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired then-LMPD Chief Steve Conrad following the news that there were no body cameras. The investigation determined a National Guard member fired the round that killed McAtee.

Louisville police shot another person the next day: an armed 25-year-old white man in the East End, after he appeared to reach for a gun. LMPD has not yet named the man, and that narrative is also not included in the report. He survived the shooting.

Harris, the University of Pittsburgh professor, says even if these omissions are the result of an honest mistake, they undercut the usefulness of reporting data in the first place.

“It’s good that they are doing this, but it could certainly be more useful and you don’t want it to hide things, even if that’s completely inadvertent,” Harris said. “If the objective here is to be transparent and to inform your community, you don’t want to have the list broken out in a way that does that even if that’s not intended.”

Contact Jared Bennett at jbennett@kycir.org.

LMPD Report On Police Shootings Doesn’t Name Breonna Taylor, David McAtee Wednesday, Jun 17 2020 

Once or twice a year, the Louisville Metro Police Department releases data on incidents when an LMPD officer fired their weapon or was fired upon.

It’s a step towards transparency that many other police departments have not taken; however, the most recent report contains several omissions and errors that policing experts say limit the dataset’s usefulness.

The report, dated June 10, includes an entry for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, but her name is not in it. Two men shot by police this month, David McAtee and another man they haven’t named, are also left out, though the new report was issued because LMPD officers were involved in new shootings. Three individuals killed by LMPD in 2018 are also omitted from the update.

The analysis inaccurately indicates that no police shootings occurred over a seven-year period, skewing the 3.7-a-year average of shootings it claims. It also includes those years in its assessment that shootings result from 0.00002% of LMPD’s citizen contacts.

(Click this link to download the report.)

Representatives from LMPD and the mayor’s office have not responded to questions submitted Monday about the database.

David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, says the report from LMPD is a step in the right direction, despite its flaws, and he applauds LMPD for releasing some information.

No national database of police shootings currently exists. The Washington Post and the Guardian maintain databases of fatal police shootings, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has created a voluntary program to collect data on use of force by police officers.

But the irregularities in LMPD’s report underscore the need for a national standard for collecting data about police shootings, Harris said, so that the public can better understand one of the most extreme powers of government.

“The public quite simply has a right to know when agents of the Commonwealth of Kentucky are using, or attempting to use, deadly force on its citizens,” Harris said. “We should know that, as members of the public. Here we are as Americans walking around essentially blind to this problem until [media] step into the breach.”

The LMPD issued the latest report on its website after nearly two weeks of widespread protests prompted by the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed by plain-clothes detectives serving a no-knock warrant at her apartment. The report also came 10 days after law enforcement shot and killed McAtee at his barbecue stand in the West End. 

Over the last two weeks, the refrain from protesters has been, “Say her name: Breonna Taylor.” After McAtee’s death, protesters began chanting his name as well. Neither is named in this data.

Database Structure Could Obscure Hurt Bystanders

The report includes a database of police shootings going back to 2011. Entries detail the name, race and sex of the suspect and officers involved, and a narrative description of the event. None of the columns indicate if the suspect was the same person who shot at — or was shot by — police.

The narrative for March 13 says that officers executing a search warrant “were met by gunfire from within the residence.” 

“Multiple officers returned fire. One subject was taken into custody and another subject was killed during the incident,” it said. 

Kenneth Walker is the named suspect, and he told police he fired the shot that hit one detective in the leg. He was not shot when police returned fire. Taylor, the person killed in the police shooting, is not named.

Harris said it appears the database is structured to focus on the individual who is the target of enforcement. He said structuring the data this way isn’t necessarily a problem, but it could gloss over key information when a bystander is killed.

“If you key your data to the target of your enforcement and somebody else is killed, you are going to lose information that’s important — not the least of which is the fact that a different person was killed,” Harris said. “That, in itself, is an important piece of data.”

Taylor family

Breonna Taylor, here in December, would have turned 27 on Friday. Her friends and family remember Taylor as a caring person who loved her job in health care and enjoyed playing cards with her aunts.

That’s similar to the circumstances of Taylor’s case. Walker said he believed they were being robbed when he shot at plain-clothes officers entering the dark apartment in the middle of the night. Taylor, who had been sleeping, was killed in the hallway. Walker was initially charged with attempted murder and assault, but Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced late last month he was dropping the charges, pending further investigation by the FBI and Kentucky Attorney General’s office.

The LMPD report is dated the day after the agency released a nearly blank, inaccurate incident report that listed Taylor’s injuries as “none.” LMPD later issued a statement saying the inaccuracies were due to a problem with the reporting program that created the file.

Missing Cases And Rise In Police Shootings

The report also includes statistical data on shootings by month and year, going back to 2003.

This data says no “officer-involved shooting” cases were opened from 2003-10, though a KyCIR review of media reports found LMPD officers shot at least 10 people in those years.

LMPD’s report would indicate that its officers have been involved in 68 shootings since 2003. Nearly half of the shootings in that timeframe have occurred since 2018. 

It breaks the number of shootings out by division, though it’s unclear if that reflects where the shooting occurred or which personnel was involved.

The suspect was Black in 63% of those shootings, according to the report.

John DeCarlo is a professor at the University of New Haven and former police chief of Branford Police Department.

DeCarlo said that gap from 2003 to 2010 could skew any analysis of the data. But, DeCarlo said, the data LMPD has released after 2011 clearly shows a rise in police shootings in recent years.

“What we are seeing is this big spike, and you have to ask yourself why. Why is it going up?” DeCarlo said.

Last year, LMPD said it opened investigations into 16 incidents where an officer shot at suspects or was shot at, the highest number by far since 2011. So far this year, LMPD has already recorded eight police shootings.

DeCarlo said police departments should collect more data and use the information they have to determine why shootings appear to be on the rise in Louisville. 

“Any transparency is certainly a step in the right direction. The US as a whole is way behind the data curve,” DeCarlo said. “Police are the only organization in the United States that can not only take away your freedom, but use lethal force on you.”

According to LMPD’s report, internal investigations are still open for at least 37 shootings. But the data omits several cases.

In Likely Formatting Error, Some Deaths Left Out

Three people killed by LMPD in 2018 were not included in LMPD’s most recent database report. 

In February 2018, LMPD officers shot and killed two men riding in a car after someone in the car shot at police. Billy Ray Riggs and Alexander Simpson were killed in the shooting, but only Simpson is included in the database.

Benjamin Kennedy was killed after firing at LMPD officers in November 2018 and is not on the list.

Raad Fakhri Salman, who was killed in July 2018, is also not included. 

Salman and Kennedy were included in previous versions of the report, including one released in May. 

LMPD didn’t respond to questions about it, but it appears those names may have been left off during the conversion process. These cases were the last on the list in 2018, and the June 10 report is the first LMPD released in a PDF format instead of an Excel spreadsheet. 

LMPD’s report includes eight police shootings so far this year, but only included the narratives for six.

The narrative description of the June 1 shooting of David McAtee is not included in the report. Two LMPD officers and two Kentucky National Guard members shot at McAtee when they went to 26th and Broadway to break up a crowd violating curfew. Police said McAtee shot at officers; the LMPD officers who shot back did not activate their body cameras, in violation of LMPD policy. 

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired then-LMPD Chief Steve Conrad following the news that there were no body cameras. The investigation determined a National Guard member fired the round that killed McAtee.

Louisville police shot another person the next day: an armed 25-year-old white man in the East End, after he appeared to reach for a gun. LMPD has not yet named the man, and that narrative is also not included in the report. He survived the shooting.

Harris, the University of Pittsburgh professor, says even if these omissions are the result of an honest mistake, they undercut the usefulness of reporting data in the first place.

“It’s good that they are doing this, but it could certainly be more useful and you don’t want it to hide things, even if that’s completely inadvertent,” Harris said. “If the objective here is to be transparent and to inform your community, you don’t want to have the list broken out in a way that does that even if that’s not intended.”

Contact Jared Bennett at jbennett@kycir.org.

The post LMPD Report On Police Shootings Doesn’t Name Breonna Taylor, David McAtee appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Document Details What LMPD Audit Will, And Will Not, Cover Tuesday, Jun 16 2020 

The forthcoming, top-to-bottom audit of Louisville’s police department will look at everything from training to racial bias to community policing and police interactions with the public “in all scenarios,” according to the document provided to firms interested in performing the audit.

The city has issued a request for proposals, called an RFP, for companies that want to submit a bid to do the review. The deadline to submit those bids is today. The RFP shows that the winning firm will have to file a report to the Mayor’s Office and likely present those findings to the Metro Council. 

“We need to take a hard look at the policies and how they’re applied,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a recent press conference. “Think about the procedures, the structures of our police department to ensure that they align with the goals and values of our community.” 

The Louisville Metro Police Department has been the subject of local and national criticism since the killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old healthcare worker, in her own home after a no-knock warrant on March 13. 

At the end of May, protests erupted across the city, demanding accountability for the officers and the department. Police Chief Steve Conrad, who had already agreed to retire at the end of June, was fired after police, along with Kentucky National Guard members, shot at and killed David McAtee. 

Two days later, Fischer said LMPD would undergo this top-to-bottom audit, while the department looked for a new police chief and undertook a deep-dive review of the Taylor case. 

There is no time frame for the audit listed in the RFP, but the scope of work is significant. The review is expected to cover: 

  • Patterns and practices related to police interactions with the public in all scenarios: traffic stops or investigative stops, searches and warrant executions, arrests, use of force and use of de-escalation tactics.
  • Policies that “contribute to or increase the likelihood of racial profiling, racial bias, and implicit bias.”
  • Current LMPD training policies: the type of training given, the implementation of training, and an assessment on its effectiveness.
  • Policies, operational practices, organizational structure and management, accountability systems, corrective and reporting procedures, workload indicators, trends, and performance measures.
  • Community policing, internal affairs complaints and any resulting officer discipline, recruiting, hiring, promotions, interactions with youth and people struggling with mental health issues.

The RFP says the firm selected will have to conduct listening sessions “ensuring substantial interaction with community members, interest groups, prosecutors and defense attorneys, and police personnel.” 

In an addendum, the city said they are hoping “diverse views” will inform the review and recommendations. 

The addendum also specifies that the city is “open” to an audit that includes evaluation of equitable justice, racial reconciliation and social justice issues, as well as traditional law enforcement issues. 

The LMPD will be required to give auditors access to training curriculum and records, body camera files, all offense and arrest records, and all crime statistics and analysis. 

But the RFP says they will not have to provide access to open Public Integrity Unit investigations or full Police Standard Unit investigations. Public Integrity investigations look at whether an officer broke the law in the course of duty; Public Standard investigations look at whether they violated department rules. The RFP doesn’t explain why those records won’t be made available.

The auditors will also not have access to background checks on officers, and will only receive hiring practice records and employees performance reviews that are not limited by the union contract or state law. 

The police officers’ union says they are eager for the review. 

“No officer working the street writes policies for LMPD,” said Fraternal Order of Police president Ryan Nichols. “When that review gets into procedures and policies, that will be a direct reflection of the mayor and his command staff.”

Experts Say Audits Are Difficult But Necessary

Several experts interviewed by KyCIR said these reviews are a common practice for police departments facing scrutiny. 

“It can only be helpful and can only produce a better police service,” said Dean Esserman, a retired police chief and senior counselor at the National Police Foundation. “It can be tough. It can be a hard process, but you’re usually better once you’re through it.” 

Experts say these audits work best when they are done in collaboration with the community and the officers on the force. There’s often a gap between how policies are written and how officers implement them in practice, not to mention how those policies end up affecting the communities the police serve, said Zoe Thorkildsen, senior research scientist with CNA, a Virginia-based research firm that audits police departments.

“Sometimes the policy says one thing, but there’s sort of become a cultural interpretation of that policy that isn’t fully aligned with sort of what’s written on paper,” said Thorkildsen. “The organization itself isn’t necessarily always in a position to sort of get that honest information back from the officers.” 

Thorkildsen’s specializes in racial bias audits of police departments. She was part of a team that has performed audits of police departments in Charleston, South Carolina; Philadelphia; Las Vegas; Spokane, Washington, and others. She said just the racial bias aspects alone of this kind of audit would take a minimum of six months, but likely closer to a year. 

Charleston spent more than $150,000 on its audit.  

In Thorkildsen’s experience, the most important part of any audit is what happens after the results are in.

She said the most successful audits include a second phase, where the firm or another agency comes in to monitor how well the findings are being implemented by the department. 

“We are able to give them … an independent assessment about whether they had truly implemented a recommendation versus, you know, maybe an agency might think they did but didn’t really get the whole spirit of it,” she said. 

Louisville’s request for proposals does not specify that any monitoring would follow the audit. Thorkildsen pointed to Minneapolis as an example of what can happen when reforms are announced but not sufficiently implemented. 

In 2015, the Department of Justice’s diagnostic center released a report with guidance to help improve police accountability and community trust. Five years later, a police officer with a long history of misconduct kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, killing him, while other officers stood by and watched. 

“By all reports, they were engaged in the process,” said Thorkildsen, who did not work on that audit. “But you can see from the events that took place that those recommendations weren’t probably implemented.”

Other Changes Likely

Louisville’s audit is expected to coincide with the hiring of a new police chief, who will presumably be empowered to implement considerable reforms. 

But Esserman of the National Police Foundation said the success of those reforms will depend more on the rank-and-file officers than senior leadership. He took over the Providence, R.I., police department when it was facing federal intervention and ended up asking the entire senior command staff to retire. 

He said he promoted good, well-respected officers from within to rebuild the command staff. He said, depending on what the audit finds, a new police chief coming in at a moment like this in Louisville might find they need to make similarly sweeping changes. 

“It’s like they say, a crisis is a terrible thing to squander,” he said. “It’s a rare moment in the timeline when change like this is possible, so they have to take advantage of it.” 

And, he said, doing this kind of audit and overhaul now is better than the alternative: waiting for the federal government to do its own investigation and require federally-monitored reforms, usually in the form of a consent decree. 

“It’s always better if a city and its police department can take its own look in the mirror, take a snapshot of itself and be hard on itself than someone do it for them.” 

Bias Has Been Examined Before

This is not LMPD’s first attempt to try to quantify and eradicate racial bias in its policing. Every year since 2013, researchers at the University of Louisville have analyzed traffic stop data from LMPD by race and gender, looking at types of stops and outcomes. 

The most recent version of that report, which looked at traffic stops from 2016-17, laid out at length the ways LMPD said it was combating racial bias in its policing. 

“While analysis of this data cannot confirm nor eliminate a finding of biased policing within the Louisville Metro Police Department,” the report said, “collection of the data reflects an openness and willingness to sustain transparency within police community relations.” 

And yet, still, in 2019, LMPD significantly revised its traffic stop policy — not due to the findings of the annual review, but in response to outcry over a viral video of a traffic stop of an 18-year-old Black man. 

Officers were directed to “weigh the totality of the circumstances” before pulling someone over, WDRB reported at the time.

“Stops based upon the subject’s nervousness alone, the suspect’s prior criminal history alone, or presence in a high-crime area alone are not sufficient factors, by themselves, to establish a reasonable suspicion,” the new guidance advised. 

All officers were directed to be retrained. 

Other audits are still ongoing. Just last month, LMPD released the first part of an overtime audit that Metro Council called for in late 2018. That audit found a lack of monitoring, documentation and accounting of overtime for special events, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of missed reimbursements. 

The second part of that audit, which looks at officer overtime unrelated to special events, is expected soon. 

Contact Eleanor Klibanoff at eklibanoff@kycir.org.

 

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 | wfpl.org

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.

Support For Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Wanes As Protests Continue Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

It’s the first Sunday of June, and a group of young adults are crowded in a conference room in Metro Hall. Some of them have spent days protesting police brutality and the killing of Breonna Taylor. Now, finally, they’re meeting with the mayor.

It’s not going well.

They have come for answers, but don’t seem satisfied with what Mayor Greg Fischer has to say. These young people start talking over each other, and him. They say these issues are ongoing, they’re pervasive, they need to be addressed now.

One woman’s voice cuts through.

“So this has been a continuous issue with you, Mayor Fischer. If you can’t do your job, then you need to resign,” she says.

Less than two years ago, Fischer, a Democrat, swept into a third term with more than 60 percent of the vote. He’s the mayor that brought the city back from the recession. The guy that revived downtown, and created a data-driven city of the future. He’s the incoming president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Fischer has not been universally beloved, but it’s safe to say that — in nearly a decade of running this city — he’s never faced criticism like he has in the last two weeks.

“Just the right thing to do in this moment would be to say, I am unable to serve the city of Louisville anymore,” said State Rep. Attica Scott.

Scott represents the 41st District, which includes west Louisville, the majority-Black area of the city where she grew up and still lives. She’s one of the people speaking out against Fischer.

Two weeks ago, she was among the peaceful protesters teargassed by Louisville Metro Police.

“It’s not about you. It’s about the people,” she said. “And when the people are rejecting you, it’s time for you to go.”

Protesters Raise Concerns After 2 Police Killings

In the nearly three months since Taylor was killed in her home by Louisville Metro police, critics have called Fischer’s response too late and too weak. Protesters took to the streets two weeks ago, and on many nights since, the march has gone to his doorstep. In that time, criticism of the mayor has only grown, particularly after another black Louisvillian — David McAtee — was shot and killed by LMPD and National Guard on June 1.

On Wednesday, a state official said the bullet that killed McAtee came from a National Guard member, though two LMPD officers also fired on him at his barbecue restaurant at 26th Street and Broadway.

Scott, who serves the district where McAtee lived and worked, said the community has lost faith in its leader.

“I still struggle to find where there is a heaping amount of support remaining out there for him to continue serving as mayor,” she said.

Last week, Fischer lost the support of the Fairness Campaign, which endorsed him in all three of his general elections. The issue has also emerged in the upcoming Senate Democratic primary: candidate Mike Broihier has called for Fischer to resign. His challengers, Amy McGrath and State Rep. Charles Booker, did not respond to request for comment on the issue.

But some, like Congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, are still supporting the mayor. In a statement, Yarmuth said calls for Fischer’s resignation are unjustified. He pointed to the city’s investment in the West End, and said Fischer has been a strong leader for an inclusive and compassionate city.

Nationally, Fischer has earned the ire of celebrities and national civil rights figures who have told their social media followers to call and tell him to fire the officers involved in the Taylor case.

Quintez Brown is a 19-year-old organizer with Black Lives Matter. After Fischer said Wednesday that the city won’t defund police and the community does not want that, Brown said it’s time for Fischer to go.

“His actions these past two weeks have shown that he is standing against the protesters, standing against the Louisville community and has sided with the police,” he said.

Police Take Issue With Fischer, Too

But the police are also dissatisfied with Fischer. Last Wednesday, a group of LMPD officers walked out when Fischer visited during a roll call.

Ryan Nichols, president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police, said officers are upset that Fischer hasn’t corrected some misconceptions about LMPD’s role in the Taylor shooting. He said the union wouldn’t go so far as to call for his resignation, but the trust is broken.

“If he chose to resign, you know, we would support him in his retirement and wish him well. If he continues to serve as our mayor, we challenge him to do better,” Nichols said.

The union’s contract with the city is currently under negotiation.

But Nichols admits “doing better” means something very different to different groups right now.

Fischer, at least, thinks he’s still the right person for the job.

“Look, when I was elected for this job and swore the oath, I swore to do it during good times and bad times,” he said during a press conference Wednesday. “So what’s important now in Louisville and cities all over America, is there are plans to move forward.”

What Would Happen?

If Fischer did decide to resign, his deputy mayor would step into the role temporarily, until Metro Council appointed someone to finish out the term. If they fail to select someone, the responsibility would fall to the governor.

Theoretically, Metro Council could impeach the mayor, but council leaders haven’t taken much of a stance on resignation — let alone anything more severe.

No matter what happens, the voters won’t weigh in on who’s mayor until 2022.

For Stevon Edwards, those next steps are an important part of the equation. During a protest in Jeffersontown Sunday, she said she volunteered for Fischer’s campaigns and went to the election night parties.

And that makes the recent weeks hurt even more.

“I’m very disappointed as a Black woman, but also just as a citizen of Louisville, with the promises of compassion,” she said. “This is not showing compassion.”

But she said Fischer is just part of the problem.

“And so it is time for him to resign. At the same time, who was going to get to take his place?” she said. “We need to really think if you’re demanding for the resignation, who else is going to step in and make those changes?”

The problems, Edwards said, are systemic. They weren’t created by one man — and they won’t be fixed entirely by removing him from office.

This story included reporting from Ryland Barton and Ryan Van Velzer.

Calling For An End To ‘White Silence,’ Protesters Kneel Outside Louisville Police Headquarters Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

A crowd of more than 100 protesters gathered outside Louisville Metro Police Department headquarters in downtown Louisville on Thursday to read the names of people they say have been unjustly killed by police officers.

Demonstrators with Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice (LSURJ) said the purpose of the protest was to call for an end to “white silence,” which is the idea that white people who do not actively promote racial justice in their own communities are complicit in systemic racism.

“It is just the morally right thing to do, regardless of our skin color, the melanin content of our skin,” said Dwain Lee, a white Presbyterian minister. “The other thing is we are the majority ethnic group in the United States and without our voices, change will never happen.”

The vigil began with a trumpeter playing the spiritual “Down by the Riverside,” the chorus of which is “I ain’t gonna study war no more.” Following the song, protesters read the names of those killed by police, including the names of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March by LMPD, and David McAtee, who was killed by the National Guard while working with LMPD.

After reading the names of those who have died, demonstrators moved into the street outside police headquarters and sat or knelt in silence in solidarity with George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Despite being outside police headquarters, police had no visible presence at the demonstration and did not come out of the building to meet with the crowd.

The protest concluded with a march to Jefferson Square Park, which protesters called “Breonna Square.” The largely white crowd held signs calling for an “end to white silence,” and chanted “defund the police” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Christy Washington stood by the square as protesters arrived. Washington, who is Black, said she loves to see the solidarity from white people and only wished the crowd was larger.

“We need more white people to speak out,” she said.

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org

 

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.”

Investigation Shows National Guard Bullet Killed David McAtee Tuesday, Jun 9 2020 

The fatal shot that killed west Louisville restaurateur David McAtee came from the Kentucky National Guard, according to preliminary findings from an investigation of the shooting announced Tuesday by state officials.

J. Michael Brown, the secretary of the state’s executive cabinet, said the bullet pulled from McAtee’s body matched that of the rounds carried by the National Guard, making it clear that guardsmen — not Louisville Metro Police — are responsible for the fatal shot.

“We have no doubt,” Brown said Tuesday afternoon.

Courtesy Jerry McBroom

Chef David McAtee, preparing food for homeless families at the Volunteers of America family shelter in Louisville.

McAtee, 53, was killed just after midnight on June 1 in the doorway of his popular barbecue restaurant at the corner of 26th Street and Broadway. Police officials say officers and Guard members had come to the busy intersection to disperse a crowd that had gathered in violation of the curfew imposed last week amid a flurry of protests denouncing police violence.

LMPD officials have said McAtee was first to shoot, and the officers and Guard members returned fire. On Tuesday, Brown backed up that claim. 

He said gunshot residue was found on McAtee’s body and two casings recovered near the door of the restaurant matched the ammunition he carried in a pistol that same night.

It’s unclear specifically where McAtee was shooting, but Brown speculated it was towards the police and Guardsmen.

“And he did it twice,” Brown said.

In an emailed statement, Mayor Greg Fischer said McAtee’s death “is a tragedy – for his family, for our community, and for the nation. I will continue working with our residents to build the community that David loved into a just and equitable community.”

Surveillance video footage from the evening that’s been released shows McAtee raise his arm out the doorway, but it does not show McAtee firing his weapon at police. The officers who fired on McAtee didn’t activate their body cameras, according to police.

McAtee, known as Yaya, was a fixture of the intersection in the city’s Russell neighborhood. He was well known for his barbecue and many have said he would often give food away, even to police officers. His family has dismissed the notion that McAtee would knowingly shoot at police officers.

Brown said the investigation is not complete, and there is much more information to be gathered and analyzed. But, releasing this “critical part” of the investigation was important, he said.

“It absolutely excludes Louisville Metro Police,” he said.

Brown said investigators are still conducting interviews, sifting through police dispatch, and examining video footage. The Kentucky State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation are also examining the shooting, he said.

Marvin McAtee, David McAtee’s nephew, said Tuesday evening in an interview that he wasn’t surprised to hear the fatal shot came from the National Guard. He is still gripped by confusion as to why the guardsmen had come to his corner in response to something as benign as a curfew.

“They should have never even came,” he said.

He’s fielded a barrage of media calls and interviews since his uncle’s death.  He didn’t watch Brown’s speech Tuesday evening, and he’s trying to not worry much about the specifics of the case right now. No matter who shot, he said the result was the same — his uncle died.

Now, he’s just focused on burying his uncle and carrying on his legacy.

Contact Jacob Ryan at jryan@kycir.org.

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