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McAtee Family Attorneys Announce Plans To Sue City, Ask For Apology

Walt and Shae Smith

David McAtee’s family announced Monday that they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department and the city in relation to McAtee’s death one week ago.

McAtee, 53, was killed June 1 in a barrage of bullets fired by Louisville police and the National Guard outside his small barbecue restaurant at the intersection of 26th Street and Broadway in the city’s Russell neighborhood.

On Monday, during a press conference outside McAtee’s restaurant, attorney Ted Shouse said the family will file suit once McAtee’s mother is appointed administrator of his estate. It’s unclear just when that will be, Shouse said, since the court system is “bolloxed-up” due to the ongoing pandemic.

Shouse and attorney Steve Romines have been retained by McAtee’s mother, Odessa Riley.

“The only thing I want for my son is peace and justice,” Riley said.

Riley, 81, said McAtee was a good son and her voiced wavered as she described the pain she felt waiting nearly 12 hours for his body to be removed from his shop.

“I wasn’t going to leave,” she said.

Romines said the family also wants an apology and for city and police officials to admit they made a mistake in killing McAtee “and make it right.”

“They should do it today,” he said.

McAtee, known as Yaya, was described by friends and family as a pillar of his community and was well-known for his barbecue and his generous nature of giving it away to people who were short on cash — and to police officers.

He was killed shortly after midnight on June 1 after police officials went to the intersection to break up a crowd that was violating curfew. His death came amid a string of protests in Louisville to denounce police violence and to remember the victim of another police shooting: Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville Metro Police in March.

In McAtee’s case, police officials have released select evidence of the shooting, including surveillance camera footage from a nearby utility pole and clips from cameras inside McAtee’s restaurant. The footage released shows McAtee lean out the doorway with his right arm outstretched, but it does not show McAtee firing at officers.

The officers who fired at McAtee, Katie Crews and Austin Allen, didn’t activate their body cameras, according to LMPD. They are currently on paid leave.

Fischer fired former police chief Steve Conrad after the shooting, calling the failure of the officers to activate their body camera an “institutional failure.” Conrad had already announced his intention to retire at the end of June.

Romines said on Monday that the officers who responded to the scene also violated several agency policies, but he did not provide specifics of those violations.

He is requesting access to all evidence that is collected in the investigation of McAtee’s death and penned a letter asking such to to Gov. Andy Beshear, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Jefferson County Attorney Michael O’Connell, interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder and Kentucky National Guard Brigadier General Haldane B. Lamberton.

“Don’t make public just the evidence that you think supports your case. Make it all public,” Romines said. “We mean everything, every video, every document, every interview. It should all be disclosed.”

Riley stood behind Romines as he talked under a tent just outside the door to her son’s restaurant. Bullet holes still pocked the side of the building and the poles to the tent.

Marvin McAtee was there, as well. He is David McAtee’s nephew and was at the restaurant the night of the shooting.

He said his uncle loved the local police who patrolled the streets around the restaurant and took pride in gaining their respect and friendship.

The day after David McAtee was killed, Mayor Fischer visited the restaurant, embraced McAtee’s mother, and later called his death a tragedy. A day later, the surveillance video from inside the shop was released and police officials claimed it showed that McAtee fired first.

Marvin said the compassion shown by Fischer was all an act. Now, he wants his family to be shown the respect they deserve. He said he’s not concerned about money, or the officers involved getting fired or the chief getting ousted, “none of that.”

“I’m tired of the act,” he said. “The apology is of more concern to me than any of this, because it’s deserved.”

The family is planning to hold services for McAtee this weekend.

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