BY BRUCE SCHREINER AND REBECCA REYNOLDS YONKER, Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Video shows a popular barbecue shack operator fatally shot while police and National Guard soldiers were enforcing a curfew in Louisville fired a gun as officers approached his business, the city’s acting police chief said Tuesday. (The video may be graphic to some, please be advised click to watch)
Police said they were responding to gunfire from the crowd.
The demonstrations were set off by the deaths of a black woman from Louisville — Breonna Taylor — and a black man in Minneapolis — George Floyd — in encounters with police.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he showed the video to McAtee’s mother before it was released.
“This is a difficult piece of the story to process,” he said. “But I believe in transparency and I’ve heard the community demands that we share information as quickly as were able.”
Meanwhile, more than 1.5 million people have signed an online petition seeking justice in Taylor’s case and 165,000 people have signed in just one day showing support for McAtee, according to the online survey service Change.org, which is hosting the online petitions.
In McAtee’s case, witnesses said people were gathered to have a good time, not to protest.
Kris Smith said he was at a restaurant — “just outside having a good time, having drinks, eating barbecue” — when the soldiers arrived.
“As soon as I walk to my car they jump out with the sticks, the police jump out with their sticks and their shields and stuff on,” Smith said. “It looked like something out of a movie. It looked like a freaking war zone.”
On Monday, Fischer announced the firing of Police Chief Steve Conrad after he learned that officers involved in the shooting failed to activate body cameras at the scene. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear had demanded the release of police video.
Beshear later called the lack of body camera footage unacceptable.
Beshear authorized state police to independently investigate, promising the probe will be conducted in an “honest and transparent way that will not take months.”
Late Monday afternoon, a huge group stretching several city blocks marched peacefully from downtown Louisville to the spot where McAtee was shot. Some motorists honked horns and raised fists in solidarity.
Hundreds of protesters regrouped later Monday night at downtown Jefferson Square and riot police standing shoulder to shoulder advanced amid bursts of fired tear gas, dispersing the crowd. Military-style vehicles could later be seen occupying the emptied-out square.
Louisville’s curfew has been extended until June 8.
Protesters have been demanding justice for Taylor, who was killed in her home in Louisville in March. The 26-year-old EMT was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door as they attempted to enforce a search warrant. No drugs were found in the home.
Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.