Louisville police release officer names, body cam footage from Shawnee Park shooting
The Louisville Metro Police Department on Thursday released the names of the officers involved in last weekend’s shooting in Shawnee Park, as well as a short video containing edited body camera footage.
According to LMPD, officers Richard Williams, Daniel Burnett, Joel Voelker, Nicholas Hollkamp and Joshua Pickering were involved in an exchange of gunfire with 30-year-old Herbert E. Lee after officers confronted Lee for having multiple outstanding arrest warrants. The incident occurred shortly after the Dirt Bowl basketball tournament ended for the day.
Police say Lee shot at officers, striking Pickering in the bulletproof vest. The Department has not said how many times Lee was shot by police. Police Chief Erika Shields has said both Pickering and Lee are expected to recover.
When Lee is healthy enough to leave the hospital, police intend to charge him with attempted murder of a police officer and other charges, including receiving a stolen firearm, possessing a gun as a convicted felon and evading arrest.
According to Jefferson County court documents, Lee had been on probation since 2020, when he pleaded guilty to a fourth degree domestic violence charge. He was arrested twice last year, but was able to make bail. Lee had warrants for failing to appear in court for both of those cases, as well as another warrant for violating probation.
The documents released by LMPD on Thursday include a four-and-a-half-minute compilation of edited body camera footage and still photos. The department said in a written statement at the start of the video that Lee ran as officers approached him. It said that, as officers followed, Lee pulled a gun and refused to comply with multiple verbal commands of “Drop the gun” and “Drop the weapon.”
The video includes a slowed-down clip that appears to show Lee stumble as he runs away from officers before turning around and pointing a gun at them. Because of the distance between the officers and Lee as they exchange fire, it’s difficult to tell exactly when their bullets strike him. The video also contains photos of the holes in Pickering’s bulletproof vest, and clips of body camera footage showing officers moving a gun away from Lee’s body and rendering aid to him before EMS arrive.
More body camera footage will be released after redactions are made in line with Kentucky’s public records law, LMPD said.
Bruce Sweeney, who coaches the youth basketball team the Breewayy Warriors, named in honor of police shooting victim Breonna Taylor, told WFPL News Sunday night he witnessed the shooting. He said the incident happened shortly after the last basketball game had finished.
“The buzzer went off. It was a good game,” Sweeney said.
He recalled seeing a man who had been watching the game running and police pursuing him.
“The first thing we all said, ‘Don’t shoot him. Don’t shoot him’,” Sweeney said. “Several times we said that. Next thing I know shots were fired… Why are [police] shooting multiple rounds? There are kids out here. Y’all are supposed to be out here to protect us.”
Several activists who had come to the scene, and stood with Sweeney, had questioned LMPD’s narrative.
LMPD breaks with protocol for investigating police shootings
An LMPD spokesperson said Thursday that internal investigators are looking into the shooting for any potential violations of policy or the law.
Investigations into shootings involving LMPD officers have typically been handled by Kentucky State Police since 2020. The change was made following intense criticism over the killing of Taylor by LMPD detectives and officers’ involvement in the fatal National Guardsmen shooting of David McAtee in west Louisville.
LMPD released a statement Sunday night saying the department is "consulting with KSP regarding this ongoing investigation," and a spokesperson told WFPL News on Thursday that the actual investigation is being handled internally.
“Currently KSP does not have the bandwidth to investigate … as the state agency is working 5 [officer-involved shootings] in 10 days; to include the recent fatal shootings in Eastern Kentucky of three law enforcement officers,” the spokesperson said. “At no time did Chief [Erika] Shields or LMPD state that KSP is investigating or supervising.”
Jessica Wethington, the spokesperson for Mayor Greg Fischer, said in an email that whether or not KSP chooses to investigate a police shooting in Louisville depends on the agency’s own internal policy.
“That policy governs both the course of their investigations and their decision to initiate an investigation,” Wethington said. “KSP decides, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular case is within the scope of their SOP and based on their resources.”
Prior to the 2020 change in protocol, it was LMPD’s policy to release body camera footage within 24 hours of a police shooting.
This story was updated to clarify that LMPD said it will release more body camera footage after making redactions.