New video appears to show man shot to death by Louisville police actually fired first
By Cassie B. // Jun 03, 2020

When a black Kentucky barbecue stand operator was shot dead by police earlier this week, people looking for another reason to hate law enforcement officers were quick to express outrage, while rioters who want another excuse to steal things looted a nearby grocery store. But now it appears that officers were only returning fire after the man in question shot first.


Authorities in Louisville, Kentucky, have just released video footage showing that David McAtee fired his gun first. The video was obtained from security cameras at the stand itself and another business, and it appears to show him firing at officers who are addressing people near his business; the officers then take cover and return fire.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight on Monday morning outside of the YaYa’s BBQ stand owned by McAtee when the National Guard and Louisville Metro Police were called in to break up a big crowd outside the Dino’s Food Mart location across the street from the barbecue. Officers have maintained that they were returning fire when he was killed, and the new video footage appears to back that up.

Law enforcement officers say they are still trying to piece together what happened. They say they’d like to know why McAtee fired his gun in the first place, where the police were at the moment that he fired, whether McAtee had been shooting at law enforcement or at other shooters, and whether the authorities found a gun on him. There is no audio recording of the incident.

The officers involved in the incident have yet to be interviewed, which is standard in these types of situations to allow them time to seek legal counsel. The two officers have been placed on administrative leave.

According to the coroner, the 53-year-old died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, and tests will be carried out to determine the type of bullet that killed him. Seven weapons were recovered from a residence where McAtee had been and are being checked to determine if they had been discharged.

McAtee’s stand was popular in the city, and he was reportedly friendly with police and sometimes provided them with meals.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stated that he showed McAtee’s mother the video prior to releasing it publicly. He said: “This is a difficult piece of the story to process, but I believe in transparency and I’ve heard the community demands that we share information as quickly as we’re able.”

Body cameras were turned off

Fischer announced on Monday that Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired ahead of his planned upcoming retirement when it was revealed that none of the police officers in the McAtee incident had activated their body cameras. Governor Andy Beshear called the lack of footage from body cameras unacceptable.

Louisville police officers had been ordered to wear active body cameras following the death of a 26-year-old black EMT, Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home back in March by officers carrying out a “no-knock warrant.”

Witnesses have said that the crowds who had gathered at the barbecue restaurant were there to have a good time and enjoy a meal, not as part of any of the protests. The gathering occurred well after the city’s curfew of 9:00pm.

The Kroger grocery store near where the incident took place was looted the next day, with people entering a side door and running out with shopping carts filled with items. A security guard working at the store said the pharmacy, beer, and baby supply aisles were raided while the food remained largely untouched.

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