Fischer said multiple investigations are underway into McAtee’s killing, and that he fired the city’s police chief upon learning that the police officers involved in the shooting had not activated their body cameras.
“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” Fischer said during a Monday afternoon news conference. Deputy police chief Robert Schroeder would assume duty as interim chief, he added.
In a soundless police surveillance video released by the mayor’s office, police officers and national guardsmen are seen, from a distance, arriving at the edge of a grocery store’s parking lot, and then dispersing pedestrians and cars from the lot. Officials said the police were enforcing the mayor’s dusk-to-dawn curfew, in response to protests and riots that have convulsed the city, like many others in recent days.
Schroeder said two Louisville police officers and two National Guardsmen fired their guns in response to shots fired, and that the two police officers have been placed on leave, pending the outcome of the city’s investigation.
An audio recording of police radio communications, also released by the mayor’s office, conveys the voices of multiple police officers and dispatchers reporting “shots fired” at the grocery store’s intersection at about a quarter past midnight.
As officers coordinate their response over radio, they report the apprehension of a black male suspect in a nearby alley; “people barricaded” inside a short gray and red building across from the grocery store; and then, that “somebody’s in there dying” and medics were needed.
McAtee’s family told local media Monday that he regularly provided free meals to police officers and residents of Louisville’s California neighborhood, where he ran his barbecue shop next to Dino’s Food Mart. Schroeder described him as “a good friend” to many.
Earlier Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) ordered the Kentucky State Police to pursue an investigation into the shooting and urged the police department to quickly release body camera footage from the incident.
“I think it’s important the truth gets out there, but also for ensuring we don’t have violence,” Bashear said, signaling that swift transparency from police could quell another night of unrest. “Let’s put it out, let’s let people see it.”
McAtee’s death comes two months after Louisville police officers shot and killed another black resident, Breonna Taylor, 26, as she slept in her bed, after the officers burst into the home to execute what city officials call a “no-knock” warrant.
At Monday’s news conference, Bashear invited Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, to the lectern where she called for justice, but not violence.
“I don’t think I’m asking for too much. Just justice for her,” Palmer said.
Taylor’s family is still calling for the officers who shot her to be fired and face charges — an absence of accountability that residents said has added fuel to the anger over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, and McAtee’s on Monday.
A family spokeswoman noted that in other municipalities, including Minneapolis, the officers involved in a fatal incident were swiftly terminated.
“There’s no reason they should be on LMPD payroll,” the family spokeswoman said.
Fischer said “very good demands” for police reform had come to light as a result of Taylor’s death, but that local frustration over the fate of the officers involved has remained “a sticking point,” that he said an investigation will help resolve.