Ex-cop faces federal charges for shooting during Breonna Taylor protest

A former Louisville officer who shot at someone the night that authorities fatally targeted YaYa's BBQ owner David McAtee has been charged.

Katie Crews, a former Louisville Metropolitan Police Department officer, has been hit with federal charges for shooting at someone the night that YaYa’s BBQ owner David McAtee was fatally targeted by authorities in the summer of 2020. 

According to The Louisville Courier-Journal, Crews, 29, is accused of depriving an individual referred to only as M.M. of their constitutional rights “to be free from an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.”

A former Louisville Metropolitan Police Department officer was hit with federal charges for shooting at someone the night that YaYa’s BBQ owner David McAtee (above) was fatally targeted by authorities in the summer of 2020. (Photo: Screenshot/WLKY-TV)

The report notes that M.M. likely stands for Michelle McAtee, who previously told the newspaper that Crews fired nonlethal rounds at her as she stood outside her uncle’s barbecue eatery on that fateful June 1 night. 

A small crowd had reportedly gathered outside the restaurant after Louisville’s curfew amid protests following the death of police shooting victim Breonna Taylor, but they were on private property and not disruptive. 

Crews later gave a statement that Michelle McAtee “was standing, I wouldn’t say in an aggressive manner, but … she was not going to go inside.” She added, “After giving her verbal commands, I did shoot more pepper balls in her direction. She still refused, so I did shoot off more.” 

Crews was placed on paid administrative leave from June 2020 until February of this year, when she was finally fired from the LMPD. She faces up to 10 years of imprisonment, three years supervised release and a $250,000 fine if found guilty in a federal court. 

A June 2020 report in The Courier-Journal found that Crews may have been “predisposed” to firing the nonlethal rounds. She reportedly shared an image of a woman being shot at on her Facebook page and captioned the photo: “I hope the pepper balls that she got lit up with a little later on hurt … Come back and get some more ole girl, I’ll be on the line again tonight.”

Her actions led to the shooting death of David McAtee — who, after Crews started firing nonlethal projectiles, tried to pull his niece inside his restaurant. The shots fired also led to others trying to rush the doors. David McAtee fired two shots above his shoulder, according to the report, and was immediately fired on by several officers, including Crews and members of the Kentucky National Guard. 

McAtee’s family has filed a lawsuit against the LMPD and the National Guard, saying their misuse of force caused his death. Prosecutors in Kentucky chose not to charge any officer or Guard member in the shooting. However, the fatal shooting did lead to the immediate firing of then-LMPD Chief Steven Conrad. 

The Courier-Journal analyzed more than 30 hours of surveillance and body camera footage from the night of McAtee’s death and found that the incident was “plagued by mistakes and questionable policing decisions.”

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