Former LMPD officer in David McAtee case may plead guilty, face less prison time

By |2022-09-20T19:05:09-04:00September 20th, 2022|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

The former Louisville Metro Police officer charged with unreasonable use of force in the lead-up to West End barbecue stand owner David McAtee’s death in 2020 may plead guilty to a misdemeanor instead of a felony in her federal case and thus avoid a longer prison sentence. As a result, federal prosecutors indicated Tuesday in a superseding indictment that she may get up to one year in prison instead of the 10-year sentence she initially faced. Former officer Katie Crews was indicted in March on one count of 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." The indictment from the U.S. Department of Justice did not name Machelle McAtee but 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 the victim. Crews, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, was 29 at the time of her indictment and initially pleaded not guilty in March. She waseventually released on a $25,000 unsecured bond, according to court records. During a status conference last week, prosecutors and the ex-officer's attorney, Steve Schroering, agreed to set a change-of-plea hearing for Oct. 11 before U.S. District Judge Benjamin Beaton. Other LMPD cases:These are the ex-Louisville Metro Police officers charged by feds with unlawful forceThe federal government indicated in a superseding indictment filed Tuesday she could face up to one year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine and up to a year of supervised release. She initially faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and $250,000 fine.Schroering, who often represents current and former LMPD personnel in legal matters, declined to comment.Crews was on paid administrative leave from June 1, 2020, until LMPD fired her in February 2022 following internal investigations into her actions and also into a Facebook post published days before the McAtee shooting in which she celebrated a protester getting shot by pepperballs, according to the department. Crews was among the LMPD officers and Kentucky National Guard members who responded shortly after midnight on that June night 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 Mayor Greg Fischer put in place amid protests over Breonna Taylor's killing. The night would end with National Guard and LMPD personnel shooting and killing David McAtee, with investigators determining the fatal shot came from a National Guard member. David McAtee was 53 years old. Fischer fired LMPD Chief Steve Conrad after learning the officers did not have their body cameras on during the shooting. A lawsuit later filed on behalf of David McAtee’s mother and niece describes the scene of YaYa’s BBQ that summer as a safe haven in the West End, blocks away from downtown protests and unrest over the police killings of Black Americans like Taylor and George Floyd that had begun a few days earlier. "There were no known protestors at the location, and no law enforcement intelligence suggested that violent protestors were meeting up in the area," says the pending lawsuit. But now-former LMPD Lt. Josh Judah allegedly then called the department’s command center and, per the lawsuit and reports, told officials, “Check out what we're about to do,” before National Guard and LMPD personnel moved in to clear a crowd mostly gathered in the Dino’s Food Mart parking lot across the street from McAtee’s barbecue business. Machelle 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 footage from a neighboring business shows Crews standing at the fence line shooting projectiles at McAtee's door, even though no one was outside. Machelle McAtee contends Crews did not give her any verbal commands. Crews later admitted to investigators she had fired at Machelle McAtee that night."She was standing, I wouldn’t say in an aggressive manner, but … she was not going to go inside," Crews told investigators five days after the incident."After giving her verbal commands, I did shoot more pepper balls in her direction. She still refused, so I did shoot off more.”After Crews fired the pepper balls, a rush of people from the street pushed their way into the kitchen of YaYa's BBQ, where David McAtee lived and worked, sometimes feeding police officers on the beat, according to those who knew him.Interior 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 the bullet from a Kentucky National Guard member killed him instantly, though another 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 Guard members or LMPD officers for firing weapons that night. He said Crews violated department policies, but her actions didn't rise to the level of a crime. Along with Crews, at least three other now-former LMPD officers have faced federal charges since 2020 that relate to the unlawful use of force against civilians. Breonna Taylor case:Trial for ex-LMPD Detective Brett Hankison in Breonna Taylor case delayed nearly a yearIn addition, the DOJ announced indictments in August against four LMPD personnel accused of lying on the drug-related search warrant or recklessly firing bullets into a neighboring apartment during the raid that brought police to Taylor’s South End apartment in March 2020. The raid, which would go on to garner international attention, resulted in the officers fatally shooting Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, after her boyfriend fired a warning shot at the group he said he thought were intruders, not police.  No drugs or money were found in Taylor’s home. Reporter Kala Kachmar contributed to this story. Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com 

Louisville officer fired for policy violations related to fatal David McAtee shooting

By |2022-04-12T13:39:12-04:00April 12th, 2022|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

The former Louisville police officer who fired pepper balls into a West End barbecue shop just before owner David McAtee was fatally shot by a National Guard member was terminated Feb. 7 for violating department policies. A Professional Standards Unit investigation found Katie Crews violated three policies related to the McAtee incident at 26th Street and West Broadway the night of June 1, 2020: body camera procedures, de-escalation and use of chemical agents, according to the termination letter from LMPD Chief Erika Shields.A separate internal investigation related to a Facebook post in which Crews celebrated a protester being shot by pepper balls found she also violated policies on using social media and police conduct.Crews has appealed her firing to the city's Police Merit Board but requested the hearing be put on hold until federal criminal charges against her are resolved.In the Feb. 16 appeal, her attorney, Kyle Vaughn, wrote the allegations aren't supported by evidence, the penalty is disproportionate and excessive for the offenses and other "similarly situated officers" have been penalized less.More:Former LMPD officer involved in David McAtee shooting now facing federal chargesLast month, Crews was indicted on federal charges for using unreasonable force against McAtee's niece, Machelle McAtee, when police and National Guard members were called to clear the parking lot across the street at Dino's Food Mart.A 9 p.m. curfew was in place because of protests resulting from the police shooting of Breonna Taylor. Crews was the only officer to use force that night McAtee was killed.When most of the LMPD officers and Guard members exited from a line of military transport vehicles that pulled up on West Broadway just after midnight, Crews veered off toward 26th Street and fired pepper balls at people who rushed into McAtee's business where he also lived.Crews stood at close range on the property line firing pepper balls into McAtee's kitchen, hitting his niece several times. McAtee pulled his niece inside and fired twice above his shoulder with a handgun.Two LMPD officers, including Crews and Austin Allen, and two National Guard members returned fire. McAtee was hit in the heart and died almost immediately.In 2021, Commonwealth Attorney Thomas Wine determined that Crews did not violate any state criminal laws.Crews failed to activate her body-worn camera that night and didn't complete a "failure to activate" form, Shields wrote in the termination letter.She also violated the department's policy on the use of chemical agents — in this case the pepper balls — when she used them on a crowd that was "neither disorderly nor aggressive," Shields wrote.Crews also fired pepper balls at McAtee's niece when she didn't pose a threat and was standing in the doorway of private property.She also violated the department's de-escalation policy by failing to give people a chance to respond to her commands before firing the pepper balls, Shields wrote.Minute by minute:What happened the night David McAtee was shot dead by National GuardSocial media incidentBefore the McAtee shooting, Crews posted a Courier Journal photo of a protester handing a flower to Crews, writing a caption that said "I hope the pepper balls that she got lit up with a little later on hurt … Come back and get some more ole girl, I'll be on the line again tonight."Shields in her letter wrote the comment could be construed as promoting violence, therefore violating the policy. The post also "adversely affected, lowered or destroyed" public respect and confidence in the department.Shields wrote that Crews' conduct overall demanded termination and "severely damaged" the department's image. The result of her actions "seriously impedes" the department's goal of providing citizens with a professional law enforcement agency, Shields wrote.Kala Kachmar is an investigative reporter. Reach her at 502-662-2002; kkachmar@courierjournal.com or @NewsQuip on Twitter. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/subscribe.

LMPD officers confused, frustrated at scene of David McAtee shooting

By |2021-07-15T12:57:32-04:00July 15th, 2021|David McAtee|

LMPD officers confused, frustrated at scene of David McAtee shootingNews Sports Life Opinion USA TODAY Obituaries E-Edition Legals A review of over 1,000 minutes of body camera footage shows LMPD officers were confused, frustrated and fatigued on the night David McAtee was killed.Kala Kachmar & Jeff Faughender Kala Kachmar & Jeff Faughender, Louisville Courier JournalWatch Next  © 2021 www.courier-journal.com. All rights reserved.

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