Say His Name: David McAtee, Restaurant Owner, Killed By Law Enforcement

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David McAtee, 53, was murdered by law enforcement officers in Lousiville, Kentucky in the early morning on June 1 while running his popular food stand, YaYa’s BBQ.

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, who announced his resignation in May but has since been fired, said in a statement that shots aimed at law enforcement were fired from a crowd gathered outside of a local grocery store, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Both police and National Guard soldiers stationed to control the largely peaceful protests shot back into the crowd.

While largely peaceful protests against the police murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have taken place across Lousiville, multiple members of the community have stated that this was not a protest, but was merely a neighborhood get together, something they did every weekend for good music, food, and conversation.

On a Sunday afternoon, it makes sense that neighbors would gather to enjoy the beautiful sunny day. When police and National Guard soldiers arrived at the community gathering armed with guns, people grew frightened and began fleeing towards 26th and Broadway, where YaYa’s BBQ is located. Shots were fired and according to Marvin Mcatee, David’s nephew who, later identified David’s body, told WAVE3 that his niece was struck by gunfire. When David reached into the crowd to pull her out, he was gunned down by law enforcement.

“He did not deserve this. He was an innocent man. He did not deserve this at all,” David’s sister repeated over and over again to local reporters as her brother’s body was allowed to remain lying on the concrete for thirteen hours.

The officers involved, whose identities have not been released, claim their body cameras were turned off during the incident, according to USA Today.

David was a pillar in the community. He was known to feed everyone, including police officers, for free. Many local officers approached the family after the murder took place and offered their condolences, as they’d been given meals by David before, according to WAVE3. He was featured in February on West of Ninth, a photoblog from Walt and Marshae Smith. In the interview, he characterizes his hopes for upgrading his food spot into a full-scale restaurant.

“This location is one of the busiest locations in West Louisville. I always wanted to be in this spot, and when the opportunity came, I took it. If I go, somebody else will snatch it. I’ve already built my clientele, and I’m not trying to give up my clientele. I’m here for a reason. Eventually, I’m going to buy this lot and build,” David said. “I gotta start somewhere, and this is where I’m going to start. It might take another year or two to get to where I’m going, but I’m going to get there… I have always been blessed with the skills to cook. I didn’t need anything else. People have to eat every single day, and all I need is my skills.”

Many in the community fear riots will emerge from this senseless police killing where there previously were none, according to WAVE3. Law enforcement presence has increased, pushing the people of this peaceful neighborhood beyond their breaking points.

“We need peace. It seems like a lot of people that come out here, they’re ready for war,” Immanuel, a member of the community who has been working to keep the peace between law enforcement officers armed with riot gear, and terrified citizens, told the news station.

Governor Andy Beshear has ordered Kentucky State Police to investigate the murder and ordered any video and body camera footage be released immediately.