LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A downtown Louisville wig shop is suing the city over $85,000 in damages the business said it sustained during late May riots.
In a lawsuit, JJ Wig Shop alleges that city officials expected riots to occur and could have prevented the damage but failed to do so because Mayor Greg Fischer ordered Louisville Metro Police officers to “stand down” and prohibit them from protecting businesses.
In Louisville, large-scale protests against police brutality and racial injustice began in late May, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the release of a 911 call related to the death of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor, who had been shot and killed by LMPD officers on March 13.
JJ Wig Shop argues that city officials knew the release of the call would produce “negative public reaction.”
“Intelligence sources within the LMPD revealed the possibility of widespread protests, which, if not handled appropriately, could spread into rioting and property destruction,” the suit reads.
Nonetheless, LMPD officers fired pepper balls and tear gas into protesters, “nearly all of whom were protesting peacefully,” according to the suit.
“LMPD subsequently claimed that the tear gas and gunshots were necessary to prevent assaults on officers. But no officers were reported as injured during the protests,” the suit reads.
LMPD officers also informed some businesses — but not JJ Wig Shop, at 525 S. Fourth St. — that “out of state groups were being (bused) into the city of Louisville, to participate in the demonstrations, and that their intentions were not likely to be peaceful or lawful,” according to the suit.
“Despite active intelligence that property damage began to occur to downtown businesses on Fourth Street, Mayor Fischer persisted in his stand down order, directing the LMPD not to intervene with the theft and destruction of downtown businesses, even though police officers were in close proximity to these businesses as they were being broken into and looted,” the suit reads.
Surveillance video from the wig shop showed looters smashing glass shortly before midnight on May 29, the suit states. The following day, shop owners noticed stolen inventory and damaged property.
“It took months to rebuild,” the suit reads.
“City officials, individually, or with the aid of their own citizens, could have prevented the damage, but they did not do so due to the stand down orders issued by Mayor Fischer,” the suite alleges.
The business owners are seeking a jury trial and damages of $85,000.
The lawsuit also seeks class action status, as “hundreds of businesses” in Louisville suffered damages in similar circumstances.
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