Details emerged of a Kentucky police officer mocking a protester on Facebook days before being involved in the fatal shooting of a Black restaurant owner.
Kentucky restaurateur David McAtee, 53—who owned YaYa's BBQ, in western Louisville—was shot and killed on Monday when local law enforcement and National Guard personnel "returned fire" on a crowd at a parking lot adjacent to McAtee's establishment.
Officer Katie Crews was among the police officers who arrived at the corner of 26th and Broadway to break up a "large crowd" during the nationwide protests.
The demonstrations in Kentucky were precipitated by the police-related deaths of Black civilians, Breonna Taylor—a 26-year-old who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department on March 13; and George Floyd—the unarmed man who was murdered by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
Officer Crews—who was put on administrative reassignment on Monday after McAtee's death—had posted a Courier Journal photo on Thursday of a female protester giving flowers to Crews.
Ofc Katie Crews posted photo of a protester offering her flowers & said "I hope the pepper balls that she got lit up with a little later on hurt.... Come back and get ya some more ole girl." She's of the officers reassigned after the murder of David McAtee https://t.co/3XI98qk51a
— Martin Weiss (@martinweiss) June 2, 2020
In her Facebook post, Crews wrote:
"She was saying and doing a lot more than 'offering flowers' to me. Just so for it to be known."
"For anyone that knows me and knows that facial expression tells everything."
"I hope the pepper balls that she got lit up with a little later on hurt."
"Come back and get ya some more ole girl, I'll be on the line again tonight."
Twitter users were furious over the unsympathetic officer.
https://t.co/jP8zWp7vaG Katie Crews is her name. She posted this and she was involved in the shooting David McAtee. pic.twitter.com/zNzldbkr69
— corie brangers (@koriebrayngurz) June 2, 2020
The fact that she would feel comfortable posting this knowing her fellow officers will get a chuckle out of it, in the midst of chaos brought about in part by police in her own department killing someone, says everything you need to know about police culture in this city.
— Travis Henry XVII (@XviiHenry) June 2, 2020
— linda k (@queridalink) June 2, 2020
Have they stopped doing testing and psych evals of police recruits? Is it so hard to find cops that they're hiring people who shouldn't be trusted?
— Frank Crotzer (@thecaptain1701e) June 2, 2020
Katie Crews life has blown up in ways she could have predicted. She is nationally known, and not in a good way.
The same social media platforms that has given white supremacists and far-right thugs a voice can also be used to rally support against extremism and violence
— @MikeDMarler (@MikeDMarler) June 2, 2020
Clearly Katie Crews should be fired vs being reassigned! Police forces simply reassign toxic officers as opposed to firing them. A law enforcement officer is a public trust position. Once that trust is broken, you should OUT! @louisvillemayor @LPMD https://t.co/JreTaoYn3X
— BIG F (@MrFFW) June 2, 2020
New Police Chief Robert Schroeder said he was aware of Crews' post and launched a professional standards investigation.
The interim Police Chief took over for Louisville Metro Police Department Police Chief Steve Conrad—who was fired by Mayor Greg Fischer.
Conrad, who was slated for retirement by the end of the month, was fired because he was unable to provide footage after Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear demanded them for investigation.
Crews and her fellow LMPD Officer Allen Austin had no footage from the tragic night because they either did not activate their body cams or they stopped recording, which are serious departmental violations.
I propose a simple, clear cut rule - if a cop kills anyone for any reason, any reason at all, and their (who am I kidding, his, it's always men) body cam isn't on, he's fired & loses all benefits. No hearing, no appeal, done deal. Out.
— EP Pollaert (@epollaert) June 1, 2020
And as always there is a way for the police to get away with it - the policeman's and the guardsmen failed to activate their body cams
— Laura (@LaurasBarnes) June 1, 2020
The Louisville mayor said:
"This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated."
He also said of McAtee's death:
"We lost a wonderful citizen named David McAtee."
"David was a friend to many, a well-known barbecue man."
"They've nurtured so many people in their bellies and in their hearts before, and for him to be caught up in this, not to be with us today, is a tragedy."
According to the LMPD, Crews joined the Department in 2018 and had no prior disciplinary record.
It remains unclear whether or not the first shot authorities reacted to was fired by McAtee—who was revered in the community and known for giving free meals to cops.
McAtee's family told the station:
"He fed all the policemen. Police would go in there and talk with him and be with him. He fed the police. He fed them free."
Authorities also have not indicated if the rounds fired by the LMPD or National Guard troops lead to McAtee's death.