Authorities in Louisville released surveillance footage on Tuesday afternoon that they said appeared to show David McAtee, a popular business owner fatally shot dead by police Monday, firing first at law enforcement in the moments before his death.
McAtee, 53, died in a fatal exchange with police and National Guard soldiers in the early hours of Monday morning as authorities were attempting to enforce a curfew in the city amid ongoing protests and riots in response to the death of George Floyd.
Two separate videos, taken from inside and outside of McAtee’s Yaya’s BBQ, show the restaurant owner and several other people walking in and out of the building as police officers and National Guard arrive on the scene.
At one stage, McAtee is seen leaning out of the door of the building, raising his arm upward out of frame, before staggering backwards clutching his stomach and collapsing to the ground.
It Isn't clear from the footage what McAtee - if anything - is holding in his hand when he leans around the doorway. A second angle shows smoke emanating from where McAtee was stood.
Acting Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said: ‘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.'
David McAtee (above) was shot dead on Monday morning after Louisville officers and the National Guard 'returned fire' into a group gather in a parking lot, next to where McAtee's business is located
At one stage, McAtee (dressed in red) is seen leaning out of the door of the building, raising his arm upward out of frame
He's then seen staggering backwards clutching his stomach and collapsing to the ground
It Isn't clear from the footage what McAtee - if anything - is holding in his hand when he leans around the doorway. Another angle shows smoke emanating from where McAtee was stood (seen right)
The police chief added that the video does 'not provide all the answers', but the department as released the footage in the interests of transparency.
'It does not answer every question, including why did he fire and where were police at the time he fired?,' Schroeder said.
Police said they were responding to gunfire from the crowd. Maj. Paul Humphrey said during the press conference that he doesn't doesn’t yet know why the officers approached McAtee’s restaurant.
The officers who fired their weapons have not been interviewed yet, Humphrey said. He added there’s no information yet about who McAtee was firing at.
When asked whether a gun was found on McAtee, Humphrey said that information will be shared as the investigation continues.
McAtee was shot early Monday amid waves of protests in the Kentucky city since last week. But witnesses said the crowd had nothing to do with the demonstrations.
McAtee was shot early Monday amid waves of protests in the Kentucky city since last week. But witnesses said the crowd gather had his eatery had nothing to do with the demonstrations
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.’
Witnesses said people were gathered at McAtee's restaurant 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.’
Witnesses said people were gathered at McAtee's restaurant to have a good time, not to protest
When asked whether a gun found on McAtee, police said that information will be shared as the investigation continues
On Monday, Mayor 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.
The two Louisville PD officers involved in McAtee's shooting, Katie Crews and Austin Allen, have been placed on administrative assignment pending the outcome of an investigation.
A post from Crews’ Facebook page last Thursday has since surfaced on social media, showing that days before the shooting she had uploaded a picture of herself policing the riots, laughing at the moment a protestor was injured by her fellow officers.
‘I hope the pepper balls that she got lit up with a little later on hurt,’ Crews wrote.
In the photograph, taken by the Courier Journal, an older woman is seen attempted to hand Crews flowers in an apparent gesture of peace, while the officer stares back at her, stone-faced, with her hands on her hips.
Officer Katie Crews, of the Louisville Metro Police Department, was placed on administrative assignment on Monday after she and another officer were confirmed to have been involved in the fatal shooting of 53-year-old business owner, David McAtee.
A post from Crews’ Facebook page show that days before the shooting she had uploaded a picture of herself policing the riots, laughing at the moment a protestor was injured by her fellow officers
‘She was saying and doing a lot more than “offering flowers” to me. Just so for it to be known,’ Crews claimed. ‘For anyone that knows me and knows that facial expression tells everything.’
After remarking about the pepper balls, Crews ended the post by taunting the woman, saying: ‘Come back and get ya some more ole girl, I’ll be on the line again tonight.’
Crews joined the Louisville Metro Police Department in 2018 and does not have any disciplinary records prior to the shooting of McAtee, the Courier Journal reported.
New LMPD Chief Robert Schroeder said Monday night he is aware of the post and has started a professional standards investigation into it.
Officers in the Louisville police force had been required to wear active body cameras following the death of Breonna Taylor – a 26-year-old black EMT who was killed in her home in March by Louisville police carrying out a 'no-knock warrant'.
Neither Crews nor Officer Austin Allen (right) had their body cameras switched on during the fatal shooting
On Sunday night alone more than 40 people were arrested marking the city’s fourth consecutive night of protests in Louisville
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad (above) was relieved of duty by Mayor Greg Fischer on Monday after it was revealed two officers involved in the shooting death of a local business owner at George Floyd protests earlier that day did not have their bodycameras activated
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear had demanded the release of Tuesday's 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.'
McAtee, the owner of YAYA’s BBQ in Western Louisville with be remembered as a ‘community pillar’, his mother, Odessa Riley, has said.
‘He left a great legend behind. He was a good person. Everybody around him would say that,’ she said. ‘My son didn't hurt nobody. He didn't do nothing to nobody.’
McAtee’s eatery is located next to the parking lot where the shooting took place. He was known to give law enforcement free meals as thanks for their service.
'My son was a good son. All he did on that barbecue corner is try to make a dollar for himself and his family,' Riley told the Courier Journal. 'And they come along and they killed my son.'
Officials haven’t said if the crowd in the parking lot of Dino’s Food Mart consisted of protesters or customers. The gathering came after the 9pm curfew in Louisville.