Louisville police chief fired after officers kill unarmed man at protest

Louisville police chief fired after officers kill unarmed man at protest

Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad has been fired following the killing of an unarmed black man early Monday morning after a weekend of contentious protests.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced the termination of the embattled chief after it was announced that no body-camera footage was available from the shooting of David McAtee.

Conrad already had agreed to resign from his position by the end of June after the controversial police killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was killed in her own home by Louisville Metro Police Department [LMPD] officers.

Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad, left, seen speaking here in 2016, has been fired. (Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images, File)

Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad, left, seen speaking here in 2016, has been fired. (Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images, File)

Now, his tenure will be cut short after less than 10 years as chief of police. His tenure was marked by scandal and low officer morale, including a teen sex abuse scandal that saw two of his officers prosecuted and incarcerated for acting sexually inappropriate with minors involved in a mentorship program. The scandal produced seven lawsuits that have been ongoing.

Breonna Taylor, with an award related to her work as an emergency-room technician.

Breonna Taylor, with an award related to her work as an emergency-room technician.
(Taylor family photo)

The FBI confirmed to Fox News that an investigation was ongoing into the Youth Explorer sex scandal, but could not confirm that Conrad was a target in the investigation.

“[Officer] morale was already low due to poor leadership. They’re hurt, the vast majority do an outstanding job and dedicate their life to the city.”

— Louisville Metro Council President David James

Conrad was appointed to the position in 2012, a year that saw seven officer-involved shootings. One of those included the now disgraced and incarcerated ex-cop Brandon Wood, who has been serving five years for sexually abusing a teenager involved in the disbanded Youth Explorers program.

The most violent year for Conrad’s LMPD was 2019, which saw 16 officer-involved shootings that resulted in five deaths. In total, there have been 62 officer-involved shootings that have resulted in 27 fatalities, according to LMPD data.

“I think the officers are in shock,” Lousiville Metro Council President David James said. “Their morale was already low due to poor leadership. They’re hurt, the vast majority do an outstanding job and dedicate their life to the city.”

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Local reporters have indicated that Conrad will still receive his pension after being fired.

McAtee, a 53-year-old local business owner, was killed after officials said LMPD investigators and the Kentucky National Guard “returned fire,” after someone allegedly had fired a shot at the officers and soldiers.

A family member said McAtee died trying to shield his niece from the gunfire.

McAtee’s identity was confirmed by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who said he’s working toward “getting all the answers as quickly as possible” on social media.

Now, those answers may be delayed after reporters on the ground in Louisville said not a single body camera on LMPD officers at the scene of McAtee’s death was activated.

“The lack of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” Fischer said in announcing Conrad’s firing.

Change at the top of the LMPD was coming, and some critics said it’s long overdue, but it may not be enough to heal the wounds in Louisville right away, after the killings of two unarmed black civilians by police and a number of other scandals under Conrad’s watch.

“Today is a terrible vindication for the victims, whom the community has believed in for the last four years, but whom Steve Conrad never supported.” 

— Louisville attorney Thomas Juanso.

The most damaging to public trust and shocking of the scandals was the Youth Explore sex abuse case, according to a local attorney who was on the initial civil lawsuits. Fox News covered the scandal extensively in a four-part podcast.

“At every turn, Steve Conrad failed to adhere to the mandatory state-required reporting of child abuse, refused to prosecute child rapists, and tarnished the careers of the LMPD rank and file,” attorney Thomas Juanso said. “Today is a terrible vindication for the victims, whom the community has believed in for the last four years, but whom Steve Conrad never supported.”

Now, with LMPD veteran Robert Schroeder acting as interim chief of police and internal and Kentucky State Police investigations underway into the shooting of McAtee, local officials said they hoped the city could start to heal.

“I’m hopeful for the future prospects of Louisville. I’m sorely disappointed in the mayor and how he’s handled things.”

— Louisville Metro Council President David James.

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“I’m hopeful for the future prospects of Louisville,” James said. “I’m sorely disappointed in the mayor and how he’s handled things, with this, with Breonna Taylor, with the Youth Explorer case, with the police overtime [scandal].

“In the end, this is America, and we are going to overcome this issue and we’ll be much better for it. We’ll get to be what we tell everybody we were and what we believe we are,” he continued, hopefully.

Fox News’ Perry Chiaramonte contributed to this report.


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