David McAtee (a.k.a. "Yah Yah") - Police shooting during protest violence 6-1-2020

David McAtee (a.k.a. "Yah Yah")

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – David “Ya Ya” McAtee, the black man who was shot dead during a police incident in west Louisville early Monday morning, fired a gun before being hit amid an exchange of gunfire involving Metro police and National Guard troops, according to Louisville police's description of video they released Tuesday.

Police said it was not clear whom McAtee was firing at, but McAtee was shot by either Louisville Metro Police Department or the National Guard.

"This video appears to show Mr. McAtee firing a gun outside of his business door as officers who were using pepper balls to clear the Dino's (Food Mart parking) lot were approaching his business," acting Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder said during a Mayor Greg Fischer news conference. "This video does not provide all the answers, but we are releasing it to provide transparency.

"It does not answer every question, including, 'Why did he fire?' and 'Where were police at the time he fired'?" Schroeder said. "We know these are questions the community is asking, and we are asking these same questions ourselves. That is why we conduct a thorough investigation to get these answers."

In a news conference Tuesday evening, LMPD Assistant Police Chief LaVita Chavous said McAtee "had a gun in his hand," and it was later found close to his body.

The audio-less footage was taken from surveillance cameras inside McAtee's barbecue restaurant and on the wall of an adjoining business. 

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The Louisville officers, including two who fired their weapons, were not wearing body cameras or did not turn them on during the incident, violating department policy. That led Fischer to fire police chief Steve Conrad on Monday about a month ahead of his planned retirement.

McAtee's death has inflamed community tensions over police brutality. The incident happened because police were trying to enforce Mayor Greg Fischer's dusk-to-dawn curfew, which Fischer ordered Saturday to stop violence that broke out during protests over the police killing of 26-year-old Louisville resident Breonna Taylor.

PODCAST: Louisville's five nights of protest, placed in context:

What the McAtee videos show

In the video taken inside McAtee's restaurant, McAtee is shown heading toward an exterior door as a half-dozen people quickly shuffle inside the building. McAtee appears to retrieve an object from his right hip and peer outside, raising his right arm, before ducking back inside. McAtee moves out of the frame before coming back into view, appearing to collapse to the ground.

In the crowd inside the shop, there is also a man in a white shirt and blue shorts standing by McAtee. The man appears to be holding an object in his right hand that looks like a gun. In the commotion before McAtee falls to the ground, the man in the blue shorts runs out of frame.

In the other video, McAtee is seen tending to barbeque smokers just outside the building. He goes inside. People begin to hurry inside the restaurant as law enforcement officers approach.

Smoke then billows from the door and sparks fly just outside the building as officers retreat.

Maj. Paul Humphrey, commander of LMPD's training division, said during the news conference that it wasn't clear what drew officers to McAtee's business. He said it appeared officers were "addressing some individuals" near McAtee's business after they were first on the Dino's Food Mart lot trying to clear a crowd.

"As the officers are addressing those individuals, Mr. McAtee appears to fire at the officers, and they take cover and return fire," Humphrey said. "But without the audio and without having interviewed the officers yet, that is yet to be determined, exactly how those incidents occurred."

An autopsy shows McAtee died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, Kentucky Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said in a news conference held by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Bullet fragments must be analyzed to determine what type of bullet hit him, Brown said.

Brown oversees the Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet and Kentucky State Police, which is investigating the incident.

Brown said eighteen shots were fired between the LMPD and Guard troops. 

Brown added that six handguns and a shotgun were found in the building where McAtee was shot, though Beshear said authorities were unable to say whether those weapons were legally purchased.

Beshear declined to say whether he accepts Louisville police's interpretation of the videos: that McAtee fired before being shot.

Beshear said the videos are "just one data point" in the investigation.

Beshear said Kentuckians, including McAtee's family, deserve the truth, "And that's what we are going to ensure happens."

Correction: An initial version of this story incorrectly said that McAtee's shooting was not captured by the video. It also gave the incorrect title for J. Michael Brown.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.