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Protester Who Witnessed Police Shooting Wanted To Hold 'Bad Protesters Accountable'

Louisville Metro Police officers block off Broadway at 1st Street following a shooting, during which two officers were hit, on Sept. 23, 2020.
Louisville Metro Police officers block off Broadway at 1st Street following a shooting, during which two officers were hit, on Sept. 23, 2020.

Shortly before someone shot two police officers in downtown Louisville Wednesday night, a protester nearby heard loud bangs, which he thought came from devices police were using to break up a large crowd near Brook St. and Broadway.

Moments later, he heard the distinctive sound of gunshots. He started running down an alleyway. Then he saw a few men run past him, one of them shooting, he said.

"At that point, I was keeping an eye on them just because I noticed that he literally just shot the police," he said. "He wasn't shooting in the air, he was shooting directly at them."

The protester, Taylor, said he watched the man and what he presumed were his companions enter a parking lot, where he thought they may have disposed of the gun. He asked not to be identified by his full name because he received threats after posting online that he pointed the alleged shooter out to police.

Louisville police arrested Larynzo Johnson shortly after the shooting and charged him with two counts of first-degree assault on a police officer and 14 counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

LMPD Interim Chief Robert Schroeder said during a press conference Thursday morning that Maj. Aubrey Gregory and officer Robinson Desroches are both expected to recover. He also said the investigation into the incident was in progress, and that it was too early to disclose many of the details, or whether a protester identified the suspect.

Taylor told WFPL it took a couple tries to find officers who would listen to him, but he was able to discreetly identify the alleged shooter and point out where he thought the weapon was.

He shared the information with police — even as he protested what he considered a lack of justice for their colleague's actions — because most protesters are peaceful, like him, and don't tolerate violence.

"Any death threats or people calling me a snitch doesn't phase me," he told WFPL in a text. "I know I did the right thing. We can't let these few agitators who are not out there for (Breonna Taylor) ruin our message."

Taylor said he plans to protest again Thursday night. He spoke with WFPL's Ryan Van Velzer about the incident. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

RYAN VAN VELZER: Did it look like they targeted specific officers? One of the officers who was hit was one of the leaders of the protest response, Maj. Aubrey Gregory.

TAYLOR: I don't believe they targeted anybody. I don't even think they had any time to go out there and specifically target an officer. I think they were just angry, angry people. I mean, they were young. I think they were just angry kids and decided to take their anger out when they saw the opportunity and in a way they shouldn't have.

VAN VELZER: Were police thankful that you helped them? Did they express gratitude at all for pointing out the shooter?

TAYLOR: Not the ones that I was pointing it out to. The ones that I ended up talking to and giving them the rundown, they were thankful. I also want to point out, the cops that I was talking to, they were all Black. You know, they understood that we're out there for a reason and that they understand we're out there fighting for accountability. But they also were thankful that we were holding bad protesters accountable.

VAN VELZER: It seems important that people recognize that protesters are not a monolith. How do you feel about protesters shooting at police? Why did you decide to go to police with that information?

TAYLOR: We want good officers to hold bad officers accountable, so the good protesters should be holding the bad protesters accountable. We all want to go home at night. We all want to see our family. I understand some people are saying that we don't have to hold up to that end of the social contract when officers aren't holding their end of that social contract. However, I think we should be better. We shouldn't stoop that low. We should be the change that we want.

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

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