City, police not taking responsibility for role in David McAtee’s death, attorney says

Attorney Steve Romines said there is no excuse or reason why David McAtee should not still be alive and grilling today.
Updated: Jun. 10, 2020 at 5:13 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - David “Yaya” McAtee was shot and killed by a Kentucky National guardsman at his restaurant on June 1, Kentucky Secretary of the Executive Cabinet J. Michael Brown stated on Tuesday during Gov. Andy Beshear’s coronavirus briefing.

A state investigator said residue proved McAtee, 53, fired his gun.

McAtee’s family attorney Steve Romines said there is more to the story. He claims McAtee’s death is another example of a cover up and the city refusing to own up to its mistakes.

Romines said McAtee’s death is a snapshot of the systemic racism that has been going on in Louisville. He said what the city and LMPD are trying to do is villainize McAtee for an eight second decision and completely ignore everything that led up to it.

McAtee was a well-loved barbecue business owner and was known by local police he fed for free. Romines said there is no excuse or reason why McAtee should not still be alive and grilling today.

State investigators said McAtee was shot and killed by a member of the Kentucky National Guard on June 1 and allege McAtee shot first.

Romines said blaming the victim is their cover. He said the guardsmen were not dressed like law enforcement and no officers announced themselves.

Romines said McAtee was cooking hamburgers 45 seconds before chaos broke out and he was protecting himself. He said the only people who get the benefit of a doubt in self-defense cases with guns are cops.

"The people who get the benefit of the doubt in these stressful situations for firing a gun are always cops,” Romines said. “An unarmed black kid with a toy gun, gets killed they say ‘well there was no way to know that it wasn't a real gun.’ Then well how is David supposed to know one their cops since they didn't announce themselves and two that those aren't live rounds.”

Romines said McAtee had every reason to believe he was in danger because officers ignored every policy about crowd dispersal.

He said there were no protests or riots going on at McAtee’s restaurant the night he was killed and soldiers and police should have never been there. Romines said he’s received no information from the city or police about who ordered a joint military operation to go to a barbecue.

"Where else did they send National Guards with live rounds anywhere beside the West End?” Romines said. “Where else did they send people to break up a BBQ anywhere else? Where else did they break every single policy they have for crowd dispersal? They didn't announce themselves as cops. Where else did they ignore use of force policies about shooting pepper balls at people's heads?"

Romines said giving soldiers and officers weapons of war with live ammo and unleashing them on citizens is a violation of nearly every principal the country is founded on.

A state investigator announced Tuesday McAtee did fire his gun twice that night. Romines said McAtee was entitled to the same self-defense as law enforcement and National Guardsmen and the fact that the state said body cameras were on at one point proves the corruption involved in the case.

Romines said until the city and LMPD accept responsibility and faults in cases like McAtee and Breonna Taylor that the talk about change is just for show.

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