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Judge Grants Restraining Order To Delay Public Testimony In Metro Council Investigation

J. Tyler Franklin

A judge has granted a temporary restraining order to prevent Louisville Metro Government employees from testifying publicly in a Metro Council investigation into the administration of Mayor Greg Fischer.

Members of the government oversight and audit committee attempted to obtain testimony from Metro Chief of Public Safety Amy Hess and interim police chief Robert Schroeder on August 3. The pair exited the meeting after their lawyers argued they could not comment in open session due to a recently-filed federal civil rights lawsuit related to ongoing protests in the city.

Committee members said they planned to focus the early part of their investigation on the government's response to protesters. They said they would turn to issues related to the fatal shootings of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee, both Black Louisville residents, following the completion of criminal investigations into those incidents.

On August 5, the committee issued subpoenas to Hess and Schroeder to require them to testify on August 17. This restraining order will prevent that — at least for the time being.

Jean Porter, the mayor's spokeswoman, said in an email that the administration is not trying to avoid having Louisville Metro Government employees testify in open session.

Fischer addressed the lawsuit during a Tuesday afternoon press conference on Census efforts, saying the administration was trying to get clarity on what information it could share and when.

"The city is committed to everything coming out, all the facts, all the truths in any of the cases and anything that we deal with, but it needs to be done in accordance with any type of other issues that are ongoing, whether they be ongoing criminal investigations or, in this case, recently-filed lawsuits and somebody has time to defend themselves," he said.

Councilman Brent Ackerson (D-26), who chairs the government oversight committee, said he is disappointed by this development. He said he did not see a legitimate reason for the testimony to be delayed.

"We ought to get it out there as quickly as possible," he told WFPL. "And so, the only reason to to delay and hide is to slow any negatives that might come out and try to control the PR from the issue."

Ackerson said he was concerned that they city would continue to come with up reasons to delay testimony. He said council would file a response to "vigorously fight for transparency."

Last week, during the meeting in which Hess and Schroeder were expected to testify under oath of their own free will, Ackerson vowed that no portion of the investigation would take place out of the public eye.

Judge Audra Eckerle of the Jefferson Circuit Court signed the city's temporary restraining order on Tuesday. A hearing in the case is scheduled for August 24.

This post has been updated to include Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's comments.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.