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Louisville police say video shows restaurant owner fired gun before he was killed by police, National Guard

Louisville Metro Police car at 4th Division office. (Censusdata/Wikimedia Commons)

Louisville police released new surveillance footage that they say shows that David McAtee, a local BBQ restaurant owner, fired a gun before he was shot and killed by police and National Guard members on Monday.

“This video appears to show Mr. McAtee firing a gun outside of his business door as officers who are using pepper balls to clear” the Dino’s Food Mart lot were approaching his business, Louisville Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in a press briefing on Tuesday. The video has footage taken from a camera inside McAtee’s business and a camera at a next-door business.


Schroeder said the video “does not answer every question,” and that police were releasing it for the sake of transparency. The footage does not have audio. Schroeder said the video does not explain why McAtee fired the weapon.

McAtee was killed just after midnight Monday while police and National Guard were clearing protesters out of the Dino’s lot and the area at 26th and Broadway. Police have said they were fired upon, and officers and guard members returned fire — killing McAtee at his business across the street. Until the surveillance footage was released, police had not said if McAtee was armed or firing.

The video taken from inside YaYa’s BBQ Shack, shows McAtee, wearing red, standing in a doorway of the business with a raised arm. McAtee and others rush back inside, and McAtee collapses to the ground.

J. Michael Brown, the secretary of Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive cabinet, is overseeing the investigation by Kentucky State Police. Brown said Tuesday that the preliminary results of the McAtee’s autopsy of McAtee showed that he died from a single gunshot wound in the chest. Brown said KSP has not yet determined whether the fatal shot came from the National Guard of Louisville police.

The released video includes a second piece of footage from outside the business that shows officers approaching the business. Under a blue tent by the restaurant, a cloud of smoke appears. Officers and others subsequently back up and appear to fire multiple times at the business.

Brown said there were 18 shots fired by Louisville officers and National Guard members. He said those weapons, as well as the six handguns and one shotgun found inside the building where McAtee died are undergoing a forensic analysis.

“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 and … with any other audio that we might have captured, say on police radios, to try and get a true chronology of what occurred,” Brown said.

Beshear said Tuesday that the state will be reducing the National Guard presence in Louisville. Beshear’s announcement comes the day after President Donald Trump urged governors to increase their use of the National Guard, adding that he would deploy the U.S. Army if he deemed it necessary.

“The president’s statements about bringing in the military are not appropriate and they are not helpful,” Beshear said. “I don’t know if he was speaking out of frustration, but from what we’ve seen in Kentucky, no, he should not do it.”

The video released by police appears to show McAtee firing on the officers and National Guard members with the officers and National Guard subsequently taking cover and returning fire, Louisville Maj. Paul Humphrey said. Humphrey acknowledged that the lack of audio could make it challenging to tell what exactly is happening in the video. He added that the officers who were at the scene still need to be interviewed and may provide information that could alter that timeline of events.

But when later asked who police believed McAtee was firing at, Humphrey said the police “don’t have that information right now. Hopefully we can get some more information that leads to better understanding as part of the investigation.”

Steve Conrad, the previous police chief, was fired Monday after two officers who fired their weapons during the incident did not have their body cameras turned on. Both officers were put on administrative leave. The two National Guard members who fired their weapons have also been pulled from duty by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Kentucky State Police and the FBI are investigating McAtee’s death.


© 2020 the Lexington Herald-Leader