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Killing of David McAtee

Coordinates: 38°15′10″N 85°45′31″W / 38.2527°N 85.7585°W / 38.2527; -85.7585
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Killing of David McAtee
Part of George Floyd protests
DateJune 1, 2020 (2020-06-01)
Time12:15 a.m. EST
VenueFood Mart parking lot
LocationLouisville, Kentucky
Coordinates38°15′10″N 85°45′31″W / 38.2527°N 85.7585°W / 38.2527; -85.7585
OutcomePolice chief Steve Conrad fired over handling of incident
DeathsDavid McAtee
  • Katie Crews
  • Austin Allen

Kentucky National Guard

  • Andrew Kroszkewicz
  • Matthew Roark
ChargesPending investigation (federal)
LitigationWrongful death lawsuit against LMPD and Kentucky Army National Guard pending[1]

On June 1, 2020, David McAtee, a 53-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot by the Kentucky Army National Guard in Louisville during nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd and the killing of Breonna Taylor.[2][3] The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and National Guard were in the area to enforce a curfew. According to officials, the police and soldiers were fired upon by McAtee, and two Louisville officers and two National Guardsmen returned fire. McAtee was killed by a shot fired from a guardsman. The body cams of the police involved were deactivated during the shooting, in violation of department policy.[4] Hours later, police chief Steve Conrad was fired by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.[4][5][6][7]


David McAtee was the youngest child of Odessa Riley and James McAtee, and had eight siblings. He owned and operated YaYa's BBQ Shack, a popular barbeque restaurant in Louisville's predominantly black West End neighborhood,[8] a food desert, and was a "beloved fixture" of his community. He had a reputation for generosity, including serving food at no cost in his restaurant to police officers and members of his community who were struggling financially.[9][4] Having de-escalated potentially violent situations on multiple occasions, he was also known as a calming presence in his neighborhood.[10] He adopted the name YaYa after becoming a Rastafarian around 2010.[9]


At the time of the shooting, a 9 p.m. curfew was in place due to protests following the recent murder of George Floyd and killing of Breonna Taylor by police officers. The LMPD and National Guard were attempting to disperse a crowd of people in and around the parking lot of Dino's Food Mart, a popular social gathering spot at a gas station across the street from McAtee's restaurant.[8][10][11]

Witnesses in the crowd said the gathering was independent of the protests and was instead part of a weekly neighborhood social occasion at which McAtee served food. They allege that soldiers and police, in their effort to enforce the curfew, had boxed the crowd into the area thus causing a panic, which resulted in people running towards the restaurant.[12] According to an LMPD statement, someone in the crowd opened fire at the armed officers and soldiers, who returned fire. A bullet shot by a National Guard soldier struck McAtee in the chest,[13][14][15] killing him at the scene at about 12:15 a.m.[16]

Following the shooting, hundreds of people stood near the restaurant, and McAtee's body remained lying at the scene for 12–14 hours while police investigated.[9][17] After the coroner removed the body and the police departed, president of the Louisville affiliate of the National Urban League Sadiqa Reynolds recruited a local gospel singer to sing "Amazing Grace".[9]


On June 1, Governor Andy Beshear ordered Kentucky State Police to investigate the shooting via a joint effort with the FBI Louisville Field Office and the U.S. Attorney Office for the Western District of Kentucky.[10] On June 2, acting LMPD police chief Schroeder said that security camera footage showed McAtee firing a gun as officers approached his business while clearing out a nearby parking lot.[18][19][20] According to Schroeder, questions remained, "including why did he fire and where were police at the time he fired?"[18]

On June 4, videographic analysis by The New York Times' visual investigations unit of surveillance and bystander videos from four separate angles reconstructed a synchronized chronology of the sequence of events leading to McAtee's death.[8] This analysis concluded that police first fired at least two pepper balls from outside McAtee's restaurant toward his relatives and him, in violation of LMPD policy requiring pepper balls be shot at the ground in front of the crowd (rather than into the crowd) during crowd dispersal operations, and that "law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force" when trying to disperse non-violent crowds.[8][21] One shot hit and pierced a bottle on an outdoor table, knocking it to the ground, and the other struck the doorway, almost hitting McAtee's niece in the head. At the time, the pepper ball shots may not have been distinguishable from other ammunition.[8] In response, McAtee grabbed his gun and appears to have fired.[8] The Guardian wrote that the video shows that McAtee "raises his arm in the air", which is "a motion consistent with firing a warning shot".[22]

On June 9, the governor's office said that lab tests from the case concluded that McAtee was killed from a single gunshot by a National Guard soldier.[15] In total, two officers and two guardsmen fired at least 19 shots in McAtee's direction.[15][16] McAtee was determined to have fired twice with a 9 mm pistol.[15] According to officials, McAtee's shots prompted law enforcement's return fire, which killed him.[15][23] The officers involved in the shooting were identified as Katie Crews and Austin Allen,[24] while the identities of the soldiers were not initially released.[25]

In May 2021, Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine released more information about the shooting. LMPD officer Crews fired eight times, officer Allen fired once, National Guard soldier Andrew Kroszkewicz fired four times, and staff sergeant Matthew Roark fired six times.[26]


Mayor Greg Fischer fired LMPD Chief Steve Conrad after learning that officers involved in the shooting of McAtee did not have their body cameras turned on.[27] Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder was placed in charge of the department as the interim police chief and declared that the officers' decision to not use their body cameras was a "clear failure to (follow) our policy" and was "completely unacceptable."[10][27]

Many residents and protesters raised concerns about why so many officers and troops were at the location, as the most significant protest that night was roughly 20 blocks away. They have also stated that the group wasn't protesting but were, instead, customers of the store and BBQ cart.[10] Others have raised questions about why rubber bullets had been used in the Highlands but real bullets in the West End.[12]

Crews became the subject of a professional standards investigation on June 2 after she posted a photo on social media of a protester offering her flowers during a protest on May 28. The photo depicts Crews standing in a police line with other officers, while a white female protester holds flowers near Crews' chest. Crews captioned the photo with "I hope the pepper balls that she got lit up with a little later on hurt" and claimed that the protester was attempting to elicit a reaction from her with taunts and finished the caption with "Come back and get ya some more old girl, I'll be on the line again tonight."[28]

In May 2021, the state of Kentucky announced that they would not file charges against the Louisville Metro Police Department officers and the Kentucky National Guard soldiers.[29][30]


Metro Council President David James described himself as a close personal friend of McAtee and described him as a good man who loved his neighborhood and city.[13] McAtee's mother told reporters that he was known by the policemen and the community, and that he had fed all the policemen and would join them for discussions while they ate.[12]

After the state of Kentucky announced that there will not be charges filed against the officers and soldiers involved in the shooting, people in Louisville protested. Several demonstrators were arrested including McAtee's brother, who was charged with unlawful assembly and obstructing the highway.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Riley, Jason (September 21, 2020). "David McAtee's family files wrongful death lawsuit against Louisville police, Kentucky National Guard". WDRB. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  2. ^ McMorris-Santoro, Evan; Brunelli, Kevin; Waldrop, Theresa (June 2, 2020). "Louisville fires its police chief over handling of fatal shooting during protest". CNN. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020. The police chief of Louisville, Kentucky, has been fired after officials discovered two police officers involved in fatal shooting of a man during a protest over George Floyd's death had not activated their body cameras.
  3. ^ Green, Marcus (June 1, 2020). "Beshear urges swift release of videos showing fatal police/National Guard shooting of Louisville man". WDRB. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020. The shooting came amid the fourth day of protests over the police killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician and former EMT.
  4. ^ a b c Schreiner, Bruce; Tulp, Sophia (June 1, 2020). "Protests, Louisville police chief fired after fatal shooting". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  5. ^ Lampen, Claire (June 2, 2020). "Everything We Know About the Police Shooting of David McAtee". The Cut. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  6. ^ Rivas, Anthony (June 2, 2020). "Louisville police chief fired after fatal shooting of David McAtee". ABC News. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  7. ^ Sanchez, Ray; McMorris-Santoro, Evan (June 2, 2020). "Louisville BBQ man who was fatally shot when police dispersed crowd used to feed officers for free". CNN. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Mazzei, Patricia (June 4, 2020). "A Popular Louisville Restaurant Owner Was Killed by the Police. What Happened?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 5, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d Elie, Lolis Eric (June 5, 2020). "Louisville Barbecue Owner Killed in Police Shooting Fed a Food Desert". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 6, 2020. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e Kobin, Billy; Kachmar, Kala (June 1, 2020). "Investigation launched into LMPD, National Guard fatal shooting of West End business owner". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  11. ^ Brito, Christopher (June 2, 2020). "Louisville "BBQ Man" used to feed police for free. He was shot and killed during the protests while cooking for people in his neighborhood". CBS News. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c "Family members say David McAtee died trying to protect his niece". KNOE-TV. June 1, 2020. Archived from the original on June 6, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Bailey, Phillip M.; Costello, Darcy (June 1, 2020). "'My son didn't hurt nobody': David McAtee, Louisville business owner, killed by authorities". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Otts, Chris (June 2, 2020). "Police say video shows David McAtee firing shots before being hit in west Louisville shooting". WDRB. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e Acquisto, Alex (June 9, 2020). "Beshear aide: National Guard fired shot that killed Louisville restaurant owner". Lexington Herald-Leader. Archived from the original on June 11, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  16. ^ a b Ladd, Sarah (August 3, 2020). "State investigation into shooting of David 'YaYa' McAtee 'substantially complete'". Louisville Courier Journal. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  17. ^ Linthicum, Kate (June 8, 2020). "Louisville demanded justice after police fatally shot Breonna Taylor. Instead, it lost another black life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Schreiner, Bruce; Reynolds Yonker, Rebecca (June 2, 2020). "Police: Video shows BBQ restaurant owner who was killed in Louisville had fired a gun". KGO-TV. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  19. ^ Booker, Brakkton (June 2, 2020). "Louisville Police Releases Video It Says Shows David McAtee Firing At Officers". NPR. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  20. ^ Pane, Lisa Marie (June 3, 2020). "Retired officer, ex-college athlete among victims of unrest". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  21. ^ Fischer, Greg; Conrad, Steve (July 27, 2015). "Review of our current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) regarding the use of force" (PDF). Louisville Metro Police Department. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  22. ^ Wood, Josh (June 5, 2020). "'I cannot stand it': family of Louisville man shot dead by police speak out". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on June 5, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  23. ^ Green, Marcus (June 9, 2020). "David McAtee killed by Kentucky National Guard bullet, Beshear official says". WDRB.com. Archived from the original on June 21, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  24. ^ Weiter, Taylor (June 1, 2020). "Louisville police Chief Steve Conrad released immediately, Fischer says". WWL-TV.
  25. ^ Kachmar, Kala (June 9, 2020). "Who killed Louisville businessman David McAtee? What newly released evidence shows". The Courier-Journal.
  26. ^ Vogt, Dustin; Valtierra, Jerrica (May 26, 2021). "No state charges for Kentucky National Guard, Louisville police in David McAtee's death". WAVE. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  27. ^ a b Costello, Darcy (June 1, 2020). "Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad fired after David McAtee shooting, city unrest". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  28. ^ Tobin, Ben (June 2, 2020). "Louisville cop in fatal shooting of David McAtee had mocked protester on Facebook". USA Today. Archived from the original on June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  29. ^ "No state charges for Kentucky National Guard, LMPD in shooting death of David McAtee". WLKY. May 28, 2021. Archived from the original on May 25, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  30. ^ "Kentucky National Guard Members Face No Charges for Shooting BBQ Chef". thecrimereport.org. May 26, 2021. Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  31. ^ "David McAtee's brother among demonstrators arrested by LMPD during march". WLKY. May 26, 2021. Archived from the original on May 27, 2021. Retrieved June 5, 2021.