Footage Appears to Show Armed Louisville BBQ Store Owner Was Responding to Chaos Sparked By National Guard Before He Was Fatally Shot; Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The family of David McAtee has filed a lawsuit against members of the Kentucky National Guard and Louisville Metro Police Department for his shooting death.

McAtee, 53, died on June 1 at his restaurant YaYa’s BBQ after police officers and guardsmen swarmed the area near his restaurant around midnight. The officers and guardsmen were there to disperse a crowd after the city had been rocked by sometimes-violent protests earlier in the week, although no evidence has emerged that the people gathered at the popular neighborhood hub that evening were demonstrating, let alone violent.

The Louisville Courier Journal’s analysis of surveillance video from the area that night — no bodycam video is available — shows that after Officer Katie Crews began firing pepper balls at people within two minutes of the arrival of the throng of cops and guardsmen, some people began fleeing through the open doorway of McAtee’s home across the street from the convenience parking lot where many people were milling about peacefully before the police arrived. At least one person is hit by a pepper ball in the doorway of the home, video shows.

The Courier Journal reported that video seems to show McAtee, who used the kitchen for food prep for the barbecue stand business in front of his home, apparently went to the door and used his own gun to fire toward the apparent attack that was sending people trampling into his house, sparking a volley of shots from cops and guardsmen. McAtee was hit and went down within seconds. It was later determined that one guardsman’s shot killed the popular neighborhood figure.

David McAtee died on June 1 after a Louisville Metro Police and Kentucky National Guard crowd-clearing operation outside his Louisville, Kentucky, restaurant led to him being shot by a guardsman. (Photo: Aida Osman/GoFundMe)

Odessa Riley and Maychelle McAtee, David McAtee’s mother and niece, are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Allen Austin and Crews, two LMPD officers, are explicitly named, but the guardsmen and other LMPD officers who were involved in the incident remain anonymous. The court documents claim “Louisville Metro [Police], the Kentucky National Guard and the Commonwealth of Kentucky have refused to name or otherwise identify” everyone else.

The Courier Journal reports authorities believe McAtee fired his pistol at least twice and the guardsmen and police responded with at least 19 gunshots. There is no body camera footage of the incident, so their assessment is based on surveillance footage and ballistic evidence.

The lawsuit admitted McAtee had a pistol in his possession but did not say anything about McAtee using the weapon. Instead, the papers claim he looked out the door twice and raised one of his arms before he was killed. The lawsuit asserted the McAtees were unaware of the chaos outside the home.

“Multiple defendants immediately unleashed a hale of at least eighteen bullets at [the] restaurant door, striking Mr. McAtee in the chest and killing him,” the court documents state. “Prior to being shot, Maychelle McAtee and David McAtee had committed no crime. They had not disobeyed any directive from law enforcement. There were not in violation of the newly imposed curfew. They had not threatened any officer and posed no immediate threat to any officer.”

The family wants compensatory and punitive damages for a slew of reasons including wrongful death, assault, excessive use of forces, emotional distress, negligence and trespassing. The lawsuit did not list a specific amount.

The McAtee lawsuit was filed days after Breonna Taylor’s family received a $12 million settlement for her death at the hands of LMPD officers.

The state investigation into possible criminal liability for McAtee’s death has largely been completed and sent to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office for review, but no determination on the case has been made, the Courier Journal reports. An FBI investigation remains open.

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