A Kentucky prosecutor said on Tuesday that he would not pursue criminal charges against National Guard members involved in a shooting that killed the popular owner of a Louisville barbecue stand last June as officials sought to enforce a curfew imposed after protests against police violence.
Thomas B. Wine, the Jefferson County commonwealth’s attorney, said in a statement that the two Louisville Metro Police Department officers and two Kentucky National Guard members were justified in firing a total of 19 shots during the encounter because they were responding to gunfire from the victim, David McAtee.
Mr. McAtee had fired two rounds after a Louisville police officer fired “several” pepper balls where the victim’s niece was standing, at the entrance to his shop, YaYa’s BBQ, Mr. Wine said.
Mr. McAtee was struck once in the chest and died moments later. Bullet fragments recovered from his body were determined to have been fired by one of the two National Guard members, but it was unclear which one, Mr. Wine said.
The Associated Press. “Cops are summarily exonerated without any proof ever being presented. Does anyone really doubt why it continues to happen?”
Federal authorities are investigating the case.
Mr. Wine announced his decision on the anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minnesota police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. A bystander’s video of Mr. Floyd’s killing touched off protests throughout the country, including in Louisville, which was already shaken by the killing of Breonna Taylor in a no-knock police raid.
A spokesman for Mr. Wine declined to comment Tuesday night when asked about the timing of the announcement.
In his statement, Mr. Wine described the brief, confusing and fatal moments around midnight on May 31, when the police and National Guard members descended on the predominantly Black West End neighborhood to enforce Louisville’s new curfew.
The New York Times. Another pepper ball, it said, came close to hitting Mr. McAtee’s niece in the head.