LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – The Louisville Metro Police Department is calling in Kentucky State Police to help monitor expected protests downtown Friday night over the Breonna Taylor shooting.
Despite the additional force, Louisville Metro Police Lt. Col. LaVita Chavous noted that Louisville officers wanted no confrontations and did not engage with protesters Thursday night until seven people in the crowd had been shot and buildings were damaged.
"I understand that you are angry and frustrated," she said Friday during Mayor Greg Fischer’s 4 p.m. briefing, which is typically an update about the COVID-19 pandemic. "LMPD’s goal is to allow for a peaceful display of your feelings."
Chavous asked that citizens not allow people from other cities to come here and cause violence.
"Do not allow people to come into our city and destroy it, or the relationship we all have been trying to build," she said. "Our goal will be to allow for the peaceful expression of protest. We value the right to free speech and understand this community has a lot to say right now."
At the same time, Chavous warned protesters that "we will not tolerate violence. We will not tolerate people being hurt. We will not tolerate the destruction of property."
Shots were fired into the LMPD headquarters at Seventh and Jefferson streets and the Hall of Justice during Thursday's protest, among other damage to buildings caused by thrown bricks, Chavous said.
Two officers were taken to hospitals with chest pains, Chavous said. One officer was hospitalized overnight, while the other has been released, she added.
"Please, please, please voice your opinions in a peaceful way," she said Friday afternoon. "We are asking for peace."
Fischer also pleaded for a safe, peaceful protest but reiterated that the city cannot allow a riot.
"Louisville will not tolerate violence and we will protect our city and our residents from any attempts at violence or property damage," he said.
In addition, Fisher urged parents to keep their children at home and told citizens to stay away from downtown if they aren't going to be part of the protest.
And he reminded protesters that "we are still in the middle of a pandemic," urging them to take precautions, such as wearing a masks.
The mayor reported 65 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in Louisville to 2,550. In addition, two more people have died. A total of 161 people have died from COVID-19 complications.
"It’s still here and it’s still dangerous," Fischer said.
Earlier Friday, Fischer said that five of the people shot last night are in "good condition," while two others had surgery for their wounds and were "stable and recovering."
He said the shots were fired from within the crowd and no Louisville Metro Police officers fired their weapons. No arrests have been made in connection to the shootings.
Officers rendered aid to those shot, Fischer said. That account is confirmed by videos at the scene shot by reporters.
As for tonight, Fischer said Taylor’s family had a message for the community: Breonna "devoted her own life to saving other lives, to helping others, to making people smile and to bringing people together. The last thing she would want to see right now is any more violence."
The shooting of Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, has drawn national scrutiny and calls for an independent probe. The protest in Louisville came as similar demonstrations flared up in other U.S. cities over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday.
LMPD officers shot and killed Taylor, an emergency room tech and former EMT, during an early morning raid on Taylor's apartment in March.
Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend, has told police he thought they were being robbed and fired at officers when they rushed in, hitting one in the leg.
An attempted murder charge against him was dismissed last week.
Fischer said the majority of the LMPD investigation of the case has been turned over to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron for his review. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office will also review the case.
There is some evidence, such as toxicology reports, that have not yet been turned over.
"There’s more than enough evidence for him to review," Fischer said of Cameron. "It is substantially complete." A timetable of the investigation has not been provided.
"It will take as long as it needs to take," Chavous said.
Fischer also said that while many have called for the three officers involved in Taylor’s shooting to be fired, it is not a "swift process."
Under state law and an agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police, a charging decision must be made by a prosecutor. An internal police investigation will then begin to see if any policies were violated.
At that point, any discipline handed out can be appealed to the Louisville Police Merit Board.
Fischer emphasized the steps he has taken in the wake of the Taylor shooting. Besides the suspension of "no-knock" warrants, he noted that Police Chief Steve Conrad has announced his retirement and a civilian review board has been created.
That board met for the first time Friday. Fischer has endorsed giving it subpoena power.
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