Protests, Louisville police chief fired after fatal shooting

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Police and Kentucky National Guard troops chase protesters as they flee toward a fence Sunday, May 31, 2020, in a parking lot at the corner of East Broadway and South Brook Street in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. (Max Gersh/The Courier Journal via AP)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Riot police firing tear gas scattered a protest crowd from a downtown Louisville square Monday night, hours after the firing of the city's police chief in the uproar over the early morning shooting death of a popular restaurant owner by security forces.

David McAtee, the owner of a barbecue spot who was known for offering meals to police officers, died while police and National Guard soldiers were enforcing a curfew early Monday amid waves of protests over a previous police shooting in Kentucky’s largest city. Police said they were responding to gunfire from a crowd.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the firing of Police Chief Steve Conrad at a news conference Monday. He said officers involved in the shooting failed to activate body cameras at the chaotic scene. Authorities had sought footage for their investigation, after Kentucky’s governor demanded the release of police video.

“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” Fischer said. “Accordingly, I have relieved Steve Conrad of his duties as chief of Louisville Metro Police Department.”

Gov. Andy Beshear later called the lack of body camera footage unacceptable.

“This is the entire reason that we have those cameras,” the Democratic governor said at the state Capitol in Frankfort.

Beshear authorized state police to independently investigate, promising the probe will be conducted in an “honest and transparent way that will not take months.”

U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman announced that federal authorities will be part of the investigation.