LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — As protests over police brutality continue in the area, West Louisville is grieving the loss of David McAtee, a 53-year-old chef and business owner who was shot and killed Sunday night as police and National Guard cleared a corner store while enforcing a citywide curfew.
The big questions for the residents as the investigation proceeds: What really happened and why were cops called here in the first place?
People from the neighborhood say Yaya’s BBQ was a beloved hangout where McAtee would feed neighbors and police officers alike. The intersection where Yaya’s is located is nearly an hour walk from the downtown courthouse, where most of the protests have taken place. Kris Smith, a local who happened to be live-streaming to Facebook before the incident began, said, “We actually weren’t protesting. We were just out here.”
Monday morning, former Police Chief Steve Conrad announced that officers “returned fire” after someone in the area fired a shot. By the end of the day, he had been sacked after it was revealed that the officers involved did not have their body cameras on.
On Tuesday, the Louisville Metro Police Department released surveillance footage which they say appears to show McAtee firing an initial shot as he stood in the doorway of his restaurant. Prior to that, officers are seen firing pepper balls at the crowd in front of Yaya’s and then at a woman standing in the doorway. The police acknowledged that many questions still remain unanswered as the investigation is ongoing.
As the community gathered to mourn Monday morning, 12 hours after McAtee was shot, his body still lay at the scene of the crime. “This is heartbreaking: That man’s body is still over there,” Louisville activist and resident Carmen Jones told VICE News. “They’re showing us we can leave y’all out here all day long and there’s nothing you can do about it.”