There will be no charges against two Louisville police officers and two Kentucky National Guard soldiers who opened fire and killed popular barbecue restaurant owner David McAtee, 53. Commonwealth Attorney Thomas B. Wine (D) of the 30th Judicial Circuit declined to bring a case involving McAtee’s death to a grand jury, saying that the man had fired two shots before one of the National Guard soldiers shot him in the chest.
“I will begin by offering my condolences to the McAtee family,” Wine wrote in his statement. “By all accounts David McAtee was well liked by the community, his patrons, and members of the Louisville Metro Police Department.”
Authorities had been clearing out the streets on June 1, 2020, amid widespread protests and clashes which resulted from the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis. Closer to home for Louisville residents was the botched police raid that resulted in officers shooting and killing Breonna Taylor, 26, in the early hours of March 13, 2020. Taylor, Floyd, and McAtee were all Black.
McAtee’s family sued last year, saying it was law enforcement who escalated the situation by firing pepper balls at his niece standing just inside the kitchen of his restaurant YaYa’s BBQ.
“Unaware of what was causing the chaos and who was shooting at his customers and his niece, David McAtee stepped out of the kitchen door to try and defend his restaurant, home, family and customers,” said the complaint obtained by WDRB.
McAtee was aware of the curfew, said Wine.
“In a recorded statement to investigators Marvin McAtee, David McAtee’s nephew, stated that he told his uncle that marshals, or ‘whoever’ were outside,” according to Wine’s statement.
Nephew Marvin McAtee was killed in a separate shooting last September. Before his death, he was on the record as saying there was no way his uncle knew police were outside.
Law enforcement sources criticized the official operation occurring in the area, according to VICE in April.
“It was a flex of the muscle,” said the person, identified as a high-ranking officer of the Louisville Metro Police Department. “There’s a lack of accountability on multiple levels. What was to be gained by this?”
McAtee’s niece told the outlet that she was on private property when she was struck by the pepper balls.
“We’re not on the sidewalk, we’re not on the street,” Machelle said. “I was blindsided.”
She said she did not realize it was the police until after.
Contrary to policy, LMPD officer Katie Crews reportedly fired the pepper balls at Machelle instead of toward the ground.
She asserted she opened fire at the niece for not going inside.
“She was standing in, I don’t want to say, an aggressive manner, but as a manner that she was not going to go inside,” Crews told investigators, according to WDRB.
The officer was one of four people who opened fire on McAtee. The others were LMPD officer Austin Allen, National Guard soldier Andrew Kroszkewicz, and National Guard Staff Sergeant Matthew Roark, Wine said.
According to Wine, Crews fired eight times; Allen fired once. Kroszkewicz fired four times. Roark fired six. McAtee was hit once. The round to his chest was from one of the National Guard soldiers, but it could not be determined who fired it, Wine said. National Guard soldiers do not wear body cameras. Crews and Allen did not have their body cameras activated, resulting in the firing of LMPD Chief Steve Conrad.
[Screengrab of moments before the fatal shooting via WHAS-TV]
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