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7 Shot During Downtown Louisville Protest Over Breonna Taylor’s Death

Ryan Van Velzer

Seven people were shot, leaving at least one in critical condition, during a protest Thursday evening in downtown Louisville over the death of Breonna Taylor.

Louisville Metro Police Department spokesperson Alicia Smiley said police made some arrests, but she couldn’t say how many as “the situation is ongoing.” LMPD spokesperson Jessie Halladay said in an email that no officers fired their weapons.

Shots could be heard on live streams of the protest before 11:30 p.m., and a WFPL reporter saw two men injured by gunfire at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Sixth streets. Police officers found the men in the crowd and rendered aid, according to reporter Ryan Van Velzer.

The shooting came after several hours of largely peaceful protest through downtown Louisville. At least several hundred demonstrators walked through downtown, chanted “No justice, no peace,” and blocked the street near Louisville Metro Hall. Halladay of LMPD said during a media briefing around 11:30 p.m. that police were trying to give protesters their space.

We are doing our best to try to resolve this peacefully and without conflict,” Halladay said.

Before the shots were fired at the protest Thursday evening, a demonstrator broke the arm off a statue of King Louis XVI. Some people also slashed the tires and broke the windows out of a prisoner transport vehicle stationed near Metro Hall, shortly before the gunshots. A woman on a bullhorn had tried to encourage protesters not to approach the police, who had formed a line in riot gear to hold the crowd back.

Credit Jacob Ryan

Shortly before midnight, LMPD officers began ordering the crowd to disperse and threatening arrest. Tear gas and rubber bullets followed. Around 12:30 a.m., after small fires were set to a picnic table and some recycling bins near Metro Hall, LMPD shared a video from Taylor’s sister. Demonstrators lit fireworks and threw some at police.

Heavy rain after 1 a.m. appeared to help clear out the scene.

Mayor Greg Fischer shared a statement from Breonna Taylor’s family, asking that protesters “do not succumb to the levels that we see out of the police.” Taylor, 26, was killedin the middle of the night when Louisville Metro Police entered her apartment with a so-called “no-knock” warrant, breaking the door down, on March 13.

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he didn’t know the intruders were law enforcement; he fired his gun and struck an LMPD officer. LMPD officers shot into the apartment, striking Taylor at least eight times and killing her.

Early Friday morning, Fischer tweeted a video, saying he feels the community’s frustration but that violence is not the answer:

The protest comes the same day as lawyers for Taylor’s family released the 911 call Walker made after Taylor had been shot. Walker had originally been charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced last week he was dropping the charges. Police Chief Steve Conrad announced he will retire next month.

Protests also broke out inMinneapolis and St. Paul this week after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was suffocated by police in the street after being detained on suspicion of forgery.

Credit Jacob Ryan

Ryan Van Velzer, Amina Elahi and Jacob Ryan contributed reporting from the scene; this story will be updated.

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