Police say they returned fire after being shot at while dispersing crowds in Louisville

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 01, 2020 01:03 PM
Police and Kentucky National Guard troops
Police and Kentucky National Guard troops chase protesters as they flee toward a fence on Sunday, May 31, in a parking lot in Louisville, Kentucky.
| Credit: Max Gersh/The Courier Journal via AP

Authorities are investigating after a person was shot and killed during a protest in Kentucky over the weekend.

At about 12:15 a.m. Monday morning, the Louisville Metro Police Department and Kentucky National Guard units responded to the Dino’s Foodmart parking lot to clear a large crowd when gunfire came at them from the crowd, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said in a statement to PEOPLE.

Both LMPD and National Guard members returned fire, said Conrad, with the situation resulting in one person dead at the scene. The coroner has not yet identified the victim. It is unclear whether the victim was armed or was involved in the gunfire at police. No other injuries were reported by police.

Issuing a statement on the death, Gov. Andy Beshear said, "Given the seriousness of the situation, I have authorized the Kentucky State Police to independently investigate the event."

LMPD is interviewing several persons of interest and is collecting body-cam video from the incident, with hours of footage to review.

Conrad said the officers had been monitoring large crowds all night, and the gathering where the shootout occurred was one of the last ones.

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There was a curfew in place, set at 9 p.m., according to WLKY, which reported that Conrad said in a press conference early Monday morning that it is "very clear that many people do not trust the police."

He added: "That is an issue we’re going to work on and work through."

Louisville's protests — like many staged across the country — follow last week's killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well other high-profile incidents of violence and mistreatment against black people.

George Floyd
George Floyd
| Credit: Ben Crump Law Firm

In Louisville, Breonna Taylor, a black EMT and aspiring nurse, was killed in her home by police who were allegedly serving a warrant in the wrong apartment, according to a lawsuit from Taylor's family.

Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor
| Credit: Instagram

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On Saturday, Beshear authorized the mobilization of the Kentucky National Guard to assist in the ongoing unrest in Louisville. In a video message about the decision at the time, the Governor said though protests began peacefully, outside groups entered the fray to instigate violence.

“We cannot let Breonna's legacy be marred by violence, and we can’t let our streets turn violent,” he said.

In a separate instance on Thursday night, gunshots were reported in Louisville, with seven people suffering gunshot wounds, according to CNN. Mayor Greg Fischer told reporters that the shots "came from within the crowd, not from police officers."