LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The mother of a business owner who was killed at his popular barbecue shack by law enforcement last week said Monday she is going to make sure her son gets justice.
“My son was a good son. I know that from the bottom of my heart because I am the one that raised him and I raised him to do the right thing,” Odessa Riley told reporters outside her son’s business, YaYa’s BBQ, flanked by her attorney, Steve Romines.
Louisville Metro Police and National Guard soldiers have said they were in the area early June 1 responding to a report of a crowd gathering near David McAtee’s eatery, miles from downtown protests. Police said McAtee fired at officers, who returned fire, but video evidence suggests law enforcement officials were firing pepper balls at the restaurant before McAtee fired his weapon.
“They trying to say that my son did the first shooting. No, he did not. When you all see he’s at the door with his hand up, he had nothing in his hand. Nothing. That’s why he’s going to get justice.”
After her statement, Romines said he is asking law enforcement to not only make all evidence available to lawyers, but to make it public as well.
“We mean everything: every video, every document, every interview. It should all be disclosed,” Romines said.
Louisville Police spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said in an email Monday that police have released what video was available leading up to the shooting.
“Additional video we are aware of does not capture the shooting itself,” Halladay said.
Romines also said Louisville officials and police should accept responsibility and apologize for violating use of force policies the night of the shooting. He said McAtee’s niece was hit multiple times with pepper balls as she stood at the door of his business.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday he has apologized in person to the family.
“Any time we lose lives, it’s a tragedy,” Fischer said. “So many people knew David McAtee as well, there’s just a lot of confusion on what happened, why it happened,” he said. An investigation is continuing.
The Louisville Metro Police Department’s use of force policy says in part that “force may not be resorted to unless other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or would reasonably be ineffective under the particular circumstances.”
Halladay said Friday that inquiries about use of force are “questions we expect to be answered during our investigation into the incident.” She declined further comment.
City officials and police did not immediately respond to a request for comment about statements made by Riley and Romines.
The National Guard was in Louisville the night of the shooting to help enforce a 9 p.m. curfew amid protests spurred by the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Louisville native Breonna Taylor. Taylor was shot by Louisville detectives serving a warrant in her home in March.
Police have said officers did not have body cameras activated, but they obtained and released security camera footage from McAtee’s business and another business.
One video appears to show McAtee firing a gun from the door of his restaurant as officers shot projectiles. Videos also show McAtee raising his arm past his doorway, but his hand is blocked from camera view. After he’s struck by a bullet, he stumbles back inside, drops a gun and falls to the ground.
Video shows people on Broadway, a major thoroughfare, scattering away from and into McAtee’s eatery as officers approach, firing projectiles. Police had used pepper balls to scatter protest crowds after curfew through the weekend. Louisville Police Assistant Chief LaVita Chavous has said that police policy with pepper balls is to “shoot at the ground in front of the crowd to get them to disperse.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired the police chief after the shooting because Louisville officers did not have body cameras running during the incident. The chief, Steve Conrad, announced his retirement last month but was going to stay on until the end of June.
Associated Press writer Dylan Lovan contributed to this report.