Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Monday announced the firing of the city’s police chief after learning that two officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black business owner had not activated their body cameras. Fischer said both officers have been put on administrative leave.
“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated. Accordingly, I have relieved Steve Conrad of his duties as chief of Louisville Metro Police Department,” Fischer said in a news conference.
The family of the victim identified him as David McAtee, who owned a barbecue near the shooting scene, CBS affiliate WLKY-TV reported.
Police said the shooting happened when officers tried to break up a large group of protesters. They said someone opened fire on law enforcement and officers returned fire.
The two officers involved in the shooting violated department policy by not wearing or activating the bodycams, said Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder. “We will review the entire incident to determine if there were any other policy violations that occurred,” Schroeder said. “I assure you, there will be discipline for failing to utilize our cameras.”
Schroeder said Kentucky State Police will also be conducting an independent oversight investigation. The mayor said the National Guard will also carry out an investigation.
In addition, U.S. Attorney Russel Coleman announced Monday night that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will also investigate the shooting “and will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law.”
“I strongly welcome these external investigations … and will support them in any way possible,” Fischer said.
Police officers and members of the National Guard had been enforcing the city’s curfew amid demonstrations over the killing of Breonna Taylor and nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. At least 40 people were arrested at demonstrations in Louisville on Sunday.
Schroeder said there is footage available from the police department’s “real-time crime center” that shows the shooting from a distance and that they released that video Monday.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also held a press conference Monday and said it was unacceptable that there was no activated body camera footage and that the firing of the police chief “had to happen.”
Louisville was home to Taylor, who was in bed with her boyfriend when three plainclothes police detectives entered her home in March. Gunfire erupted and Taylor was killed.
Taylor’s death led to protests and the end of the Louisville police practice of “no-knock” search warrants, which allow officers to enter a home without announcing their presence, often in drug cases to prevent suspects from getting rid of a stash.
“Our community is devastated yet again. Not only are we fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor, but we have lost another treasured Louisvillian, Mr. David McAtee,” Representative Charles Booker of Kentucky said Monday. “While we demand accountability and know that structural and policy changes must be made, I am committed to standing with the people of our city to build trust and a path forward. In the midst of our pain today, a powerful display of unity was shown as officers put down their weapons and the community locked arms. Let’s build on that, demand justice and heal together.”
On Monday, McAtee’s family spoke out, saying he was known as a “community pillar” and “was a good person.”
“All he did on that barbecue corner is try to make a dollar for himself and his family,” McAtee’s mother told the Courier-Journal. “And they come along and they killed my son.”
“When a mother loses her child, a piece of you goes along with that child,” she added.