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Federal civil rights trial of ex-LMPD Detective Brett Hankison in Breonna Taylor case is delayed further

By |2023-02-15T20:27:41-05:00February 15th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

The trial of ex-Louisville police Detective Brett Hankison on charges that he violated the civil rights of Breonna Taylor and four others the night when she was killed by another officer during a raid gone bad has been pushed back two additional months.Expected to last three weeks, the trial was to begin Aug. 21, but on a defense motion, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings Wednesday reset it for Oct. 30.Hankison appeared with new counsel − Jack Byrd of Nashville, Tennessee, and Ibrahim A. Farag of Louisville. The defense told Jennings the government has turned over more than one million pages of evidence and it couldn't process them by August.More:Government demands defense keep some evidence secret in Breonna Taylor civil rights trialsByrd asked Jennings to postpone it until next spring but she said that was too far out.Hankison is charged with using excessive force by firing blindly into Taylor’s apartment on March 13, 2020, through a sliding glass door and a window covered by curtains. He was acquitted on state charges of wanton endangerment but charged federally last August.He is accused of violating the civil rights of Taylor, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker along with three neighbors, including a pregnant woman and 5-year-old child.What you should know:Which officers face federal charges in the Breonna Taylor caseMore:Ex-LMPD detective has wanton endangerment record expunged in Breonna Taylor caseHankison was fired in 2020 when then-interim Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder called the rounds he fired "a shock to the conscience." Hankison testified in Jefferson Circuit Court he was trying to protect two fellow detectives at the apartment’s front door, including Sgt. John Mattingly, who was shot in the leg by Walker who has said he thought the couple was being robbed. Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove returned fire and a bullet from Cosgrove’s gun hit Taylor, killing her.Also charged with federal civil rights charges were Sgt. Kyle Meany and Detectives Joshua Jaynes and Kelly Goodlett, for allegedly fabricating a warrant for the search of Taylor's apartment and other offensesGoodlett pleaded guilty and resigned while Meany, Jaynes and Hankison were fired.  Goodlett is expected to testify for the government against her former colleagues.No date has been set yet for their trial but U.S. Senior Judge Charles R. Simpson III has set a pretrial conference for Tuesday.Breonna Taylor shooting: An 11-month timeline shows how her death changed Louisville

How Black people shaped Louisville’s history. Here are 6 stories you should know

By |2023-02-15T05:34:53-05:00February 15th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

Louisville wouldn't be what it is today without Black people who established some of the city's most historic neighborhoods, fought for equal rights alongside prominent national figures and contributed to the community's deep-rooted culture.Below are six stories of people and moments that shaped Louisville's history.To explore more, visit the University of Louisville Oral History Center, the Filson Historical Society, Roots 101 African-American Museum, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and the Muhammad Ali Center.More:Celebrate Black History Month by looking back on Kentucky history makersTwo enslaved Black men present at Louisville's foundingCato Watts, a fiddler, and Caesar, a carpenter, were two enslaved men brought to Louisville by early settlers in the 1770s, according to the Encyclopedia of Louisville.By 1810, enslaved African Americans made up 36% of the city's population, according to University of Louisville research. And by the 1840s, domestic slave trading thrived along the Ohio River, with slave pens located in the old downtown area of the city.After the Civil War, freed Black residents established several communities that remain an important piece of Louisville's fabric today, including Smoketown, Limerick, Petersburg and Berrytown.Read more:More:The traffic signal and corded bed: 8 Black inventors you didn't know were from KentuckyBlack jockey rides first Kentucky Derby winner across finish lineIn 1875, Oliver Lewis, a Black man born into slavery, rode Aristides to victory in what would become known as the Kentucky Derby.Lewis is one of several prominent Black jockeys who participated in the early years of the race. (Of the first 28 winning jockeys in the Derby, 15 were Black.)But by the early 1900s, those same Black equestrians were forced out of racing by Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation. More than 100 years later, Black jockeys remain a rarity in the sport.Read more:Martin Luther King Jr. part of local civil rights fightIn the 1950s and '60s, Martin Luther King Jr. visited Louisville several times to encourage voting and advocate for policies that would end segregation.In 1964, he and Jackie Robinson led a march of 10,000 people to the state Capitol in Frankfort, following the 1963 March on Washington.In 1965, his brother, A.D. Williams King, moved to Louisville as a minister at Zion Baptist Church. And in 1967, the siblings led protests against unfair housing practices that culminated in a boycott of the Kentucky Derby.That same year, King met Louisville native Muhammad Ali publicly for the first and only time. Though both men were influential in fighting human rights battles, they disagreed on some key issues and had a complex relationship.Read more:More:The first time I met Martin Luther King Jr., I knew I could follow him anywhereHigh school students help force integration at Louisville businessesIn 1961, Black students from Central and Male high schools organized months of pickets and sit-ins at downtown businesses that refused to let them eat, try on clothes or watch moves alongside white customers.The teens' actions led nearly 200 businesses to integrate within six months. And in 1963, the city's mayor signed an ordinance granting equal access to all public accommodations — a year before federal protections were put in place."It was pretty exciting, that's the way I remember it," said Beverly Neal Watkins, who participated in the protests. "You felt like you were doing something good."'Black Six' put on trial for 1968 rebellionIn 1968, Louisville officials accused six Black people of orchestrating a racial uprising in the Parkland neighborhood, during which dozens of businesses were burglarized and set aflame.The defendants — known as the Black Six — each were charged with conspiring to destroy private and public property. And for two years, their lives were in limbo as they awaited trial.In summer 1970, a judge threw the case out of court. But by then, it had already left a permanent mark on Louisville's history, a reminder of the ways the city repeatedly fought to quiet Black dissent.Read more:Breonna Taylor protests draw international outrageIn March 2020, Louisville police officers fatally shot Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, while serving a "no-knock" search warrant at her apartment as part of a narcotics investigation.After audio of a 911 call made by Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, on the night of her death was released, thousands took to Louisville's streets in protest, demanding officers involved in the shooting be fired and arrested.Daily marches and demonstrations continued for more than four months, with protesters using Jefferson Square Park downtown as a home base.Protesters globally invoked Taylor's name, along with George Floyd's, while marching in other cities through the summer. And in Louisville, demonstrators added two more names to their chants after restaurant owner David McAtee and photographer Tyler Gerth were killed.Read more:Still want to dive deeper? Here are more stories and videos to bookmark:Hayes Gardner and Savannah Eadens contributed to this report.Reach reporter Bailey Loosemore at bloosemore@courier-journal.com, 502-582-4646 or on Twitter @bloosemore. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: https://www.courier-journal.com/baileyl.

West End barbecue stand owner David McAtee’s family settles wrongful death lawsuit

By |2023-01-30T17:26:42-05:00January 30th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

More than two and a half years after Louisville barbecue stand owner David McAtee was killed by law enforcement officers during the first nights of the 2020 protests, a wrongful death lawsuit his family filed in the aftermath of the shooting has been settled.Steve Romines, an attorney for McAtee's family, told The Courier Journal on Monday that the case had been settled for $725,000. The two sides came to an agreement last week, he said."The family wanted the case over," the attorney said. "… They had no desire to litigate the case for another several years."The lawsuit was initially filed the lawsuit against Louisville Metro Police, the Kentucky National Guard and two LMPD officers in September 2020 on behalf of Odessa Riley, McAtee's mother, and Machelle McAtee, his niece. The plaintiffs said overuse of force and mistakes made by officers and National Guard members on the scene the night of the shooting were in violation of several department policies and ultimately led to McAtee's death.Background:Minute by minute: What happened the night David McAtee was killedFor Courier Journal subscribers:Rapid bus routes & light rail: Will TARC's plans for the future mean a new Louisville tax?McAtee was killed in the early morning hours of June 1, 2020, after protests over the police killing of Breonna Taylor had taken place throughout the day around Louisville. LMPD officers and soldiers with the National Guard, which had been dispatched in the city that day on orders from Gov. Andy Beshear, were sent to the site to break up a small crowd that had gathered after curfew at Dino's Food Mart, a business at Broadway and 26th Street where McAtee operated a small barbecue stand.Katie Crews, an LMPD officer at the time, fired several pepper balls at a group of people in the crowd, including Machelle McAtee, who was hit. David McAtee fired back with a 9 mm handgun and was subsequently shot and killed, with two LMPD officers and two National Guard members firing at him. Then-LMPD Chief Steve Conrad was fired following the shooting after it was determined none of the officers were wearing body cameras at the time.Crews was later charged with unreasonable force for her role in the shooting and was fired in February 2022 after being placed on administrative leave immediately after the shooting. She was sentenced to two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine on Monday by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Beaton and has also agreed to surrender her law enforcement certifications.More headlines:This Kentucky restaurant ranks on Yelp's list of top 100 eateries for 2023Reach Lucas Aulbach at laulbach@courier-journal.com.

Ex-Louisville Metro Police officer gets probation in case tied to David McAtee’s death

By |2023-01-30T15:35:24-05:00January 30th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

Former Louisville Metro Police Officer Katie Crews, charged with using unreasonable force in the run-up to West End barbecue chef David McAtee’s 2020 death, was spared prison time and given probation Monday during a sentencing hearing in federal court. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Beaton sentenced her to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service and gave her a $500,000 fine. Crews, 30, was indicted last year with deprivation of rights under color of law after a grand jury found she “willfully deprived” McAtee’s niece, Machelle McAtee, of her constitutional right "to be free from an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer."   As part of a plea deal, Crews was later charged in a superseding indictment with a misdemeanor instead of a felony, facing up to a year in prison instead of 10 years. Crews, who spent a decade in the National Guard, also agreed to surrender her law enforcement certifications and not seek any future employment in law enforcement.Federal prosecutors recommended one year of probation as part of the deal for Crews, who is now working as an explosive canine handler for a private security company and "mostly screening air cargo" for dangerous items, according to court documents. Her attorney, Steve Schroering, agreed with the probation recommendation, noting in court filings that Crews had no prior criminal history and has a wife along with a "large, loving and supportive family."Louisville police officers in court:These are the ex-LMPD officers charged by feds with unlawful forceIn a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors also recommended Crews serve 100 hours of community service.The federal indictment said that on June 1, 2020, Crews “fired a pepperball at M.M., striking M.M., while M.M. was standing on private property and not posing a threat to (Crews) or others.” The nonlethal pepperball projectile caused “bodily harm” to Machelle McAtee, per the indictment. Crews, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, was among the LMPD officers and Kentucky National Guard members who responded shortly after midnight on June 1, 2020, to a crowd that had gathered near David “YaYa” McAtee’s barbecue stand at 26th Street and West Broadway after a 9 p.m. curfew that then-Mayor Greg Fischer had put in place amid protests over Breonna Taylor's killing by police.   The night would end with the shooting of David McAtee, 53, a beloved cook who would offer food to LMPD officers while they were on their beats.  Crews, who joined LMPD in 2018, was on paid administrative leave after the shooting until LMPD fired her in February 2022 following internal investigations into her actions and also into a Facebook post published days before McAtee’s death in which she celebrated a protester getting hit by pepper balls. A lawsuit later filed on behalf of David McAtee’s mother and niece described YaYa’s BBQ that summer as a safe haven, blocks away from downtown protests and unrest.  David McAtee's death:Police action marred by 'poor communication,' confusion and mistakesMachelle McAtee previously told The Courier Journal she was standing in the doorway of her uncle's shop just after midnight when she was hit at close range with at least three projectiles before her uncle pulled her inside.  Video from a neighboring business shows Crews standing at the fence line shooting projectiles at McAtee's door, even though no one was outside.  Surveillance footage shows that after pulling his niece inside from the doorway, David McAtee leaned out the door, fired his handgun twice above his shoulder and was almost immediately hit by return fire.  An investigation determined a bullet from a Kentucky National Guard member killed him instantly, though another National Guard member and two LMPD officers, Crews and Officer Austin Allen, also fired their weapons.  In May 2021, Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Wine announced he would not prosecute the two National Guard members or LMPD officers for firing weapons that night.  "The repercussions from her actions took an extensive toll on Ms. Crews," Schroering, her attorney, wrote in a sentencing memorandum ahead of Monday's hearing. "She permanently lost her career. Her reputation was destroyed as the incident and her subsequent charges were covered extensively by the local and national media for months."Along with Crews, several other now-former LMPD officers have faced federal charges since 2020 that relate to the unlawful use of force against civilians. The U.S. Department of Justice has also been conducting a "pattern-or-practice" investigation into LMPD over potential abuses and constitutional violations.In addition, the DOJ announced indictments in August 2022 against four LMPD personnel accused of lying on the drug-related search warrant or recklessly firing bullets into a neighboring apartment during the raid at Taylor’s South End apartment on March 13, 2020.  Kala Kachmar contributed to this story. Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com 

‘The work has never stopped’: Tyre Nichols’ death prompts more reform calls in Louisville

By |2023-01-30T05:29:00-05:00January 30th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

Citizens around Louisville hosted marches and peaceful protests Sunday afternoon in the aftermath of the release of body cam footage from the altercation that led to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, a Black man killed by the Memphis Police Department during a traffic stop earlier this month.Several dozen people marched from the corner of Baxter Avenue and Broadway to Mid-City Mall on Bardstown Road and more gathered at Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville to call for police reform and for members of the community to start looking out for each other in the wake of Nichols' death.Who was Tyre Nichols?:Video shows police kicking, pepper spraying, beating Tyre Nichols after traffic stopAmber Brown, who organized the Baxter Avenue march, led the chant "no justice, no peace," echoing protests held during 2020 after the murder of Breonna Taylor. Protestors took up an entire lane of traffic on the busy street, carrying signs that read "Tyre Nichols: From Louisville to Memphis to the world" and "Louisville stands with Memphis" as they marched."Another Black man has been killed by police ... we have been out here fighting for justice for so long," Brown said. "And yet, once again, it's slapped in our face that no one cares."The body cam footage released Friday shows officers shouting expletives while using pepper spray and a Taser on Nichols during the Jan. 7 traffic stop, who at times called out for his mother. Police struck Nichols in the face, torso and head at least 13 times while being physically restrained by other officers.The beating, which has been widely condemned by other members of the law enforcement community, left Nichols hospitalized. He died three days later.Five Black officers involved in the beating have since been fired from the department and charged with several crimes connected to the death, including second-degree murder, according to USA TODAY reports.Brown said even though she hadn't watched the video of Nichols' murder, it was still important to march in the streets."We have to continue to make sure that people know that we're not going to leave. We haven't stopped," she said. "Throughout all of this, the work has never stopped."'We're tired'At the gathering in Jefferson Square Park, many of those who took the stage said it was time for widespread reform not just in Memphis, but in other cities, including Louisville.Dennisha Rivers, founder of Vision of Life Outreach Ministries, said she organized Sunday's vigil because she felt it was time to bring the community together to do something different to curb violence."It's time to restore, rebuild and reeducate, because apparently, we're doing something wrong and our system is doing something wrong," she said.Jamie McAtee, the brother of David McAtee, who was killed by law enforcement officers at his West End restaurant in 2020, said the video was difficult to watch, but is proof more work needs to be done."Here we are three years later, after ... so much has happened, we're tired," he said. "We're tired of being out here on the streets and trying to get some change. We're tired of saying 'we want peace' ... how long do we have to keep having peaceful protests to be heard?"Rivers said she's been in touch with members of Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg's administration who have been supportive of efforts to bring the community together to talk."They are very supportive and encouraging of what I did because we're just trying to make a difference," she said.Ray Barker, a retired Louisville Metro Police officer, said while he applauds Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis for taking immediate action regarding the officers, he said it will take more compassion among neighbors to start making a difference."(Speaking) as a Black person that still lives in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Louisville, please take this opportunity to evaluate our community," he said. "Stop living in fear. ... Step out on faith and open the door to see what's going on in your community."Some residents call for returning power to communitiesOther marchers, like Maxwell Mitchell, said one solution to overcoming police violence is putting "the power in community." By diverting money from police institutions, he said, and putting money toward people working on the ground, it can make changes in communities.Mitchell said communities can be just as powerful as institutions, like the police, because of trust."I know the people in my community. I'm friends with them. I'm neighbors with them. We say hi to each other and whatnot," he said. "If there's an infraction, something that happens, in my opinion, we have the best chance to deescalate the situation, to be there for one another, because we're right there."Antonio Brown, another marcher as Sunday's protest, said the fact the officers were Black reflects how embedded white supremacy is in policing."If it was a white man, these Black officers wouldn't have done it," he said.Brown called for an end to qualified immunity — a legal principle that prevents state and local officials, including law enforcement, from lawsuits alleging someone's constitutional rights have been violated, except in cases where the violation is clear — to better hold police officers accountable.Weekend editor Keisha Rowe contributed. Contact reporter Rae Johnson at RNJohnson@gannett.com. Follow them on Twitter at @RaeJ_33.

Restaurant, ex-LMPD officer apologize to unwitting attendees of Breonna Taylor book event

By |2023-01-27T13:52:00-05:00January 27th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, Election 2020|

Restaurant owners and a former Louisville Metro Police officer involved in the 2020 raid at Breonna Taylor's apartment who hosted an event in Kentucky last week have apologized for holding the presentation while people who had not signed up to attend were in the crowd.In a video statement this week, ex-LMPD officer Jonathan Mattingly defended the event's subject matter, which concerned the aftermath of Taylor's killing at the hands of police in Louisville, but said it should have been held at a "totally secure location." And ownership of Anna's Greek Restaurant, the Bowling Green establishment where the presentation took place, said in a statement that it apologized to attendees and "anyone else who has been emotionally or negatively impacted by this controversial incident."Mattingly was a guest at a Jan. 17 event hosted by the Republican Women of South Central Kentucky to promote his new book, which discusses the March 2020 LMPD raid that left Taylor dead and the aftermath of the incident, a key factor behind a local and national protest movement that took place that summer. The dinner was initially scheduled to take place at the Bowling Green Country Club alongside state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, a gubernatorial candidate in the Republican primary, but both parties backed out after news of Mattingly's presence sparked a backlash.In his video, Mattingly said the dinner, which included a loud video presentation with audio of gunshots, was aimed at GOP donors in the crowd who "wanted to know the truth so they had some ammunition in their pocket on who they knew who to support and who to vote for."However, while the private event with about 80 guests took place on the second floor of Anna's Greek Restaurant, some patrons who had reserved seats that evening to dine on the first floor said they were not aware the presentation was set to take place upstairs and were unwittingly exposed to the controversial event during their meal.Mattingly apologized to those crowd members in his video – "I know if I were in your shoes and there was something that I disagreed with being played over a place I brought my patronage to and paid for I'd be very upset as well" – and to the restaurant, which he described as "victim in this because they didn't know what was going on." The event was moved from the country club because "naysayers and haters" threatened the venue when they learned he would be there, Mattingly said, which put the restaurant that took the dinner "in a rough situation, right in the middle of crossfire that they didn't belong."In a separate statement published on its website, Anna's Greek Restaurant said the accommodation for the group was made on a notice of two hours and owners were "unaware of the content to be presented.""We now have recognized the need to be exceedingly diligent in reviewing any content to be presented when blending restaurant patrons with private events," the restaurant's statement said. "... It is our deepest desire to meet the needs of all people who visit our restaurant, regardless of race, religion, culture, and opinions."Cayce Johnson, a patron in attendance that night who has spoken out about the event, previously said everyone in the restaurant could hear what was taking place. She said Mattingly was introduced to "raucous applause" and at one point, loud video footage from the night of the raid was played.In his video, Mattingly said the audio of gunshots in the footage that aired that night was not taken during the raid at her apartment, as no video footage of the incident exists. Instead, he said, the footage used video and audio of subsequent protests, including a shooting that left seven people injured on the first night of the demonstrations and a shooting that injured two officers after Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced just one LMPD officer, Brett Hankison, would face charges over the raid.Mattingly, who was shot in the leg the night officers attempted to serve the no-knock warrant at Taylor's apartment, is currently promoting his book "12 Seconds In The Dark: A Police Officer’s Firsthand Account of the Breonna Taylor Raid."Reach Ana Alvarez Briñez at abrinez@gannett.com; follow her on Twitter @SoyAnaAlvarez.More:Militia leader sentenced to prison for pointing rifle at police in LouisvilleMore:'A game changing decision': Why Louisville Trader Joe's employees voted to unionizeMore:'Says a whole lot more about him': Elaine Chao speaks out about Trump's racist comments

Militia leader sentenced to prison for pointing rifle at police in Louisville

By |2023-01-26T14:30:55-05:00January 26th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

A militia leader has been sentenced to more time in prison for pointing an assault rifle at police in Louisville during racial justice protests in 2020.John Johnson, who goes by Grand Master Jay, leads the Not F***ing Around Coalition, a group of Black militants that visited Louisville several times amid demonstrations over the police killing of Breonna Taylor.On Thursday, he was ordered to serve one year in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of wanton endangerment in Jefferson Circuit Court.More:Louisville to spend $30+ million on new housing campus, eviction prevention. Here's howJohnson, from Cincinnati, was previously sentenced to seven years and two months in prison after he was found guilty on federal charges for the same incident."Johnson manifested indifference to the value of human life and created a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury when he pointed an assault riffle at 5 police officers stationed on the roof" of a building near Jefferson Square Park, a press release from Jefferson Circuit Court said.More:Brooklawn to appeal state's decision to revoke license for treating kids at facilitiesThe sentences are set to be served concurrently.In November, Johnson's attorney Murdoch Walker II said he would appeal the federal sentencing.Reach Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez at abrinez@gannett.com; follow her on Twitter at @SoyAnaAlvarez

Second person dies after Denny’s restaurant sign crushes car in Elizabethtown

By |2023-01-23T17:27:23-05:00January 23rd, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

A second person has died after a Denny's restaurant sign fell onto a family's car in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, last week during a wind advisory.The death of Lloyd Eugene Curtis Sr. follows that of wife, Lillian Curtis, 72, who died from "blunt force injuries" sustained when the sign fell on the car, according to Dan Alpiger from the Jefferson County Coroner's Office. The sign partially crushed the car after falling from a pole near a Denny's parking lot in Elizabethtown, about 45 miles south of Louisville.Chaos with 'no repercussions': This one middle school shows the many challenges JCPS facesLillian Curtis died of blunt force injuries, according to the Jefferson County Coroner's Office. Curtis suffered a "catastrophic" head wound, her granddaughter, Amy Nichols, told local news outlets.Lillian's husband, Lloyd Curtis, 77, died early on Monday morning at home from his injuries sustained in the accident, according to family.Their daughter, Mary Graham, who was driving, was released from the hospital after being treated for chest injuries, Nichols told news outlets.A wind advisory was in effect Thursday afternoon with peak wind gusts of 45 to 55 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Louisville.The couple, who had been together for over 50 years, were on their way to Columbia from Louisville with their daughter, family said. Lloyd Curtis had heart surgery just a few days prior, and the family had gone to pick him up.The granddaughter said her grandparents were the "glue" in her family and this will be a "whole change" for them, including the couple's two daughters and son. Lloyd Curtis had come home the night before he died to attend Lillian Curtis' funeral, said Brit Curtis and Amy Nichols.Nichols describes her grandparents as the most "loving, compassionate, understanding, whole-hearted people in the world" and felt "blessed" to have been their granddaughter.How did Denny's respond?A Denny's spokesperson told USA Today the company is aware of the incident."Safety is our top priority, and we are working with the authorities to better understand what led to this situation," the restaurant chain said in a statement to USA TODAY."Our thoughts are with all of those involved," it added.More:Dinner featuring ex-LMPD officer in Breonna Taylor case crossed line, attendee saysThe Curtis and Nichols family have set up a GoFundMe for travel and funeral expenses that can be found online.Contact reporter Rae Johnson at RNJohnson@gannett.com. Follow them on Twitter at @RaeJ_33.

Dinner featuring ex-LMPD officer in Breonna Taylor case crossed line, attendee says

By |2023-01-20T21:26:52-05:00January 20th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

A Kentucky NAACP chapter is speaking out after a woman in Bowling Green claimed diners at an upscale local restaurant were subjected to a graphic promotion of a book by a former officer involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor that was held without advance notice.The event Tuesday was hosted by the Republican Women of South Central Kentucky, attendees and the local NAACP branch said, and included an appearance by ex-Louisville Metro Police officer Jonathan Mattingly, who was promoting his new book about the Breonna Taylor shooting and the fallout from the botched raid at her apartment in March 2020.While the group met on the second floor, restaurant patron Cayce Johnson told The Courier Journal that audio from the event could be heard throughout the restaurant because organizers used a loud speaker. Mattingly was introduced to "raucous applause," she said, and at one point, loud video footage from the night of the raid was played, which could be clearly heard by diners below.“We actually had friends of color with us in our group, and we were all disgusted and infuriated,” Johnson said Thursday. “It was just it was so inappropriate and it had to be traumatizing for them to experience that.”More headlines:Blasting to resume at VA hospital construction site. Here's when it will happenThe event was initially scheduled to take place at the Bowling Green Country Club in conjunction with an appearance by Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, a 2023 gubernatorial candidate in the Republican primary. Quarles canceled his appearance ahead of time, citing “the controversial nature of another speaker at this event,” and the country club told The Courier Journal it "made the decision to cancel the dinner event upon being made aware of the invited guest speaker."Representatives from Anna’s Greek Restaurant did not respond to a request for comment Friday, and a phone call to the Bowling Green Country Club was not immediately returned. A woman who answered a call Friday to the phone number connected to the Republican Women of South Central Kentucky hung up on a reporter seeking comment, and by Friday afternoon the organization's Facebook page was no longer publicly accessible.Ryan Dearbone, president of the Bowling Green-Warren County NAACP, said his organization is conducting an investigation into what happened at the restaurant. He said the Bowling Green Country Club canceled the event after his organization and other local civil rights groups spoke up against it earlier in the week. He said he was told by people who had attended the restaurant that night without knowing the event was taking place that body camera footage was shown and had created an “uncomfortable situation.""This is not a political issue,” Dearbone added. “This is an issue of human decency and civil rights."Dearbone added a Republican Women of South Central Kentucky member had contacted him and said the event was “taken out of context,” as the group was “simply opening a door of First Amendment rights to Mr. Mattingly to hear his story – that he is also a victim in all of this and they hate that it's affected Anna's Greek Restaurant … also that she and none of the people in the group are racist."Read more:Kentucky Derby Festival unveils official 'Spirit of Kentucky' poster for 2023Johnson, who was at the restaurant on the night of the dinner, said she had made a reservation several days prior and was not made aware of the event until her group was ordering food. Everything was fine, she said, until lights at the restaurant dimmed and the presentation began."Ryan Quarles did the right thing. And the country club did the right thing. They canceled,” Johnson said. “They realized the optics were absolutely horrible, that this is not something that needs to be monetized or perpetuated."Taylor was a Black woman who lived in Louisville who was shot and killed in March 2020 by LMPD officers serving a no-knock warrant at her apartment. She was 26, and her death, along with the prominent police killings of George Floyd and several other Black people across the country, sparked a large protest movement that summer and fall.Reporter Lucas Aulbach contributed.See also:How you can land tickets to the Louisville Orchestra's Mammoth Cave shows with Yo-Yo Ma

Kentucky State Police captain says agency discriminated against her as a woman and mother

By |2023-01-19T05:34:01-05:00January 19th, 2023|David McAtee|

A Kentucky State Police captain and mother of two is accusing the agency in an ongoing lawsuit of sex discrimination by passing her up for promotions given instead to male colleagues.Kentucky State Police Captain Jennifer Sandlin, a captain who joined KSP after graduating from the training academy in 2003, is the commander of Post 13, which is based in Hazard and covers parts of Perry, Breathitt, Letcher, Leslie and Knott counties. She is the first female commander in Post 13 history and previously worked in numerous roles for Post 9 out of Pikeville. But Sandlin said her efforts to move up in rank have failed each time due to her gender and her status as a mother. Sandlin, 42, is a mother of two children who are 17 and 14 years old. Her husband retired from KSP in 2020. In August, Sandlin filed her lawsuit against KSP and the state in Franklin Circuit Court, alleging sex discrimination. Sandlin is represented by well-known Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who noted the case has moved forward this month with back and forth arguments on producing evidence. Specifically, Clay said the attorneys for the defendants objected in January to his request that he said seeks to uncover “disparate treatment” between male and female troopers and the travel arrangements offered to personnel depending on their gender, with KSP counsel claiming producing the records is “burdensome” and not relevant to the case. Local crime news:Prosecutors recommend probation, not prison, for ex-LMPD officer in David McAtee caseClay also pointed to the “Command Staff” section of KSP’s website and how it features photos showing how each leader is currently a white man. Since the first female trooper graduated from the KSP training academy in 1978, five women have risen above the rank of captain, the attorney for Sandlin noted. “I want somebody to explain that to me,” Clay told The Courier Journal. “Are there no qualified female command personnel within KSP to fill those positions? It’s very troubling.” Claims made in a lawsuit represent one side of a case.  A KSP spokesperson said the agency, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, does not comment on pending litigation.  But in a court filing, apart from acknowledging KSP had vacancies for the position of major, attorneys for the agency and the state otherwise largely denied the allegations and asked a judge to dismiss Sandlin’s complaint. Sandlin, who earned a forensic science degree from Eastern Kentucky University, claims in her suit she qualified and applied for various openings for Major positions over the years. That included in 2018, when KSP had openings for Major at its Forensic Laboratory Branch and as commander of its Operational Support Troop. A male captain was selected over Sandlin for each of those positions, according to the suit. In July, Kentucky State Police had an opening for the position of Major to serve as chief information officer that Sandlin again qualified for and applied for, but KSP picked a male captain, the suit says. “The selection by KSP of males over the Plaintiff established a pattern of discrimination on the basis of sex, contrary to KRS 344.020,” Sandlin’s lawsuit claims, citing the state law outlawing discrimination on the basis of sex and other protected categories. Louisville police under Shields:How the LMPD is different & what is still the sameClay said Sandlin feels like leadership at KSP has viewed her role as a mother as somehow limiting her time and ability to serve in a more senior position.Sandlin, who has also held the rank of trooper, sergeant and lieutenant, helped pilot the first Angel Initiative program for KSP’s Post 9 in Eastern Kentucky. The Angel Initiative aims to offer treatment, rather than incarceration, to those struggling with addiction. Last year, Sandlin received a lifetime achievement award from the Kentucky Women’s Law Enforcement Network, with a news release highlighting her “exceptional work in efforts to be a positive role model for other women in law enforcement,” including by organizing the first-ever retreat for female KSP personnel. “Captain Sandlin stated that she was nearing the end of her career and wanted to ensure that other female troopers were getting the same opportunities to network and support each other that she had during her career,” said the award announcement that was posted in November on KSP’s website. Sandlin is seeking, among other requests, an unspecified amount of damages for lost wages, a jury trial, injunctive relief and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial. This is not the first case against KSP alleging sex discrimination, with some appeals relating to promotions and others dealing with physical requirements for employment.  In 1979, for example, courts upheld Kentucky State Police’s minimum height requirement of 5 feet 6 inches that was in place at the time for state troopers, after two female candidates had filed discrimination complaints against it with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com 

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