FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear didn’t mince words on Monday night after a long day for him that started with an early-morning phone call.
“It is unacceptable that the officers that responded did not have body cameras on and recording,” he said during a Monday evening press conference at the Capitol.
The governor was addressing the fatal shooting of a Louisville man early Monday morning as Louisville Metro Police and Kentucky National Guardsmen were trying to clear a gathering in west Louisville that violated a 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. curfew that was in effect.
Beshear was informed very early Monday morning about the fatal shooting.
The two officers who fired their weapons during the gunfire early Monday were put on administrative leave pending the results of the shooting investigation, and assistant chief Robert Schroeder, who is now in command after Chief Steve Conrad was fired, said the officers will face more discipline. Two national guard members who fired their weapons have also been pulled from duty by Beshear.
“This is the entire reason we have those cameras,” Beshear said. “Every other officer’s camera should be reviewed, and if they captured any part of the scene it ought to be released.”
The man killed was David McAtee, the owner of Yaya's BBQ Shack restaurant, according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. McAtee didn’t fire at officers or the National Guard; he was an innocent bystander, his sister and his mother told Louisville media outlets.
McAtee, whose YaYa's BBQ Shack is near where the shooting occurred, was mourned by hundreds of people who returned to the site hours afterward even before a march by others headed to the site Monday evening.
Christopher 2X, an anti-violence activist and executive director of the group Game Changers, said McAtee was well-liked.
“I’ve never known him to be aggressive in any kind of way,” he said.
“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” Fischer said of the officers not turning on body cameras.
Police did retrieve video from crime center cameras that showed how the shooting unfolded, Schroeder said.
“It is taken from a distance, but it gives an overview of the scene and clearly shows the officers reacting to gunfire,” he said.
Beshear had plenty more to say about the incident.
“Here’s my pledge: The Kentucky State Police, which has been hard at work today at the scene, is going to investigate this matter," he said. " It’s going to be done in an honest and transparent way and will not take months.”
There have been several days of protests over the March shooting death of EMT Breonna Taylor during a drug raid at her home. The protests began after the release of a 911 call Taylor’s boyfriend made moments after the 26-year-old was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door. No drugs were ever found.
“It’s not acceptable that Breonna Taylor’s family has been apparently told it’s going to take months to finish the investigation,” Beshear said, and then regarding the early morning shooting, added, “Let’s make sure that this family which is grieving today, doesn’t have to wait months that Breonna Taylor’s family has had to.”
Beshear said he anticipated more protests Monday night at least until the curfew. “Please be safe. I know the tensions are high. I can’t feel the depths of the frustration, but it doesn’t change that I want everyone to be safe.”
“If this doesn’t wake up our world and Commonwealth and our country, I just don’t know what will,” he said.
Beshear said he won’t have the KSP investigating Breonna Taylor’s death. “This is one that I have already called for an independent review, by the Attorney General, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney. And that needs to happen.”
He also says he wants the U.S. Justice Department to get involved. “My understanding is that it’s now at their Civil Rights Division because our U.S. Attorney has recused himself. We need to hear directly from them.”
Fischer announced earlier Monday afternoon that he fired Conrad, who had already announced his retirement for the end of June.
Beshear said he agreed with that action. “When you’re Governor, sometimes you have to say things about people that you think are nice people, but it had to happen. Two incidents of this significance, no body cameras, it had to happen.”
Beshear summed things up by saying, “COVID-19 and what was already happening shows us that we are at a point in time where our world and our country and our state are going to look different moving forward,: he said. “Right now, people are calling out for a new America that is just. That we finally stop the oppression, racism, and segregation of the past. If we are at a moment for a new America, this ought to be one of the things that we demand happens. I will pledge to work for that, no matter what it means to me politically.”
Fischer also said the city's curfew was being extended until June 8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.