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Gov. Beshear Says He Will ‘Reduce’ National Guard In Louisville

A National Guard Humvee at a protest over police brutality in downtown Louisville on May 30, 2020.
A National Guard Humvee at a protest over police brutality in downtown Louisville on May 30, 2020.

In the wake of the death of 53-year-old David McAtee, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday announced he’s “reducing the National Guard presence in Louisville.” 

“I want to ensure the people of Kentucky know I'm listening,” Beshear said during his daily briefing, adding that was a recommendation by the state’s adjutant general.

Beshear said he understands that there’s a “real sensitivity” to having them here, but that he stands by his decision to call them in. 

“I believe that the Guard has been necessary, that there was a potential, especially going into Saturday night, where there were some real concerns and information out there,” he said. “I call them in solely to try to ensure that people are safe.”

Beshear said he’s approved a critical incident response team from Kentucky State Police — a unit that looks into police shootings around the state — to investigate theMonday shooting  at 26th and Broadway. During the incident, McAtee was fired at by Louisville Metro Police and the National Guard. McAtee died at the scene.

“I've told them that it must be fast, and it must be thorough,” Beshear said of KSP’s investigation.

LMPD on Tuesday released surveillance footage from the scene of the shooting that they say shows McAtee fired at officers first. There's no police body cam footage because the officers involved in the shooting did not have their cameras turned on. 

Beshear called for the release of any and all footage connected to McAtee’s death. 

“And I said yesterday, there ought to be body cam footage,” Beshear said. “But any footage ought to be released so that people can watch it, and people can see with their own eyes and make determinations.”

One reporter asked him what kind of changes he would make to policing procedures. Beshear responded by saying that “we shouldn't accept a world where we know that people feel unsafe around those who are hired to keep us all safe.” 

“I believe we've got to look at all of the concerns that are there... and when something happens, like it did in Louisville to Breonna Taylor, like it did in Minnesota [to George Floyd], you got to look at policies, you got to look at changing things,” he said. “If a tragedy happens, you've got to learn from it. You can't repeat it.”

Though Beshear didn’t offer any specifics on what exactly he would change.

Later in the briefing, he said he hopes they can fully pull the National Guard out of Louisville in the near future.

Preliminary Findings On McAtee Death

The secretary of the governor’s Executive Cabinet, J. Michael Brown, shared some preliminary details from the investigation into McAtee’s death. 

“First results of an autopsy seemed to indicate that Mr. McAtee succumbed to a single gunshot wound to the chest,” Brown said. “But tests on bullet fragments will have to be conducted at the Kentucky State Police crime lab to see if we can determine exactly what type of bullet he was struck by.” 

He said they believe that Louisville police and the National Guard fired 18 shots. 

Approximately 13 people, who were near McAtee when he was shot, have been interviewed, Brown said, and investigators have taken gunshot residue samples. 

“None of these results are back yet,” he said. “They're all very new and they were all preliminarily interviewed.”

They recovered “a total of seven weapons, six handguns, one shotgun.”

“We are going to look to see which, if any, of them have been discharged,” Brown said. “We clearly believe at least one of them was discharged and [will] try to match up those weapons with any of the shell casings that were found in the facility.”

Brown said surveillance videos released Tuesday by LMPD with also be reviewed by state police.

“That review will continue in great detail, frame by frame, to further get a better indication of exactly what the sequence of events, and in fact, we hope to go through a very laborious practice of trying to match up those videos with any other videos that were done either by civilian or security cameras,“ he said. 

Brown said they’ll release updates “as appropriate” since the investigation is ongoing. 

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