On June 1, 2020, Mayor Greg Fischer fired Louisville Metro Police Department’s Chief, Steve Conrad. The decision was made after Fisher learned that officers did not have their body cameras turned on at the fatal shooting of David McAtee.
In response to the decision, Fischer said, “This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated. An immediate change in leadership is required.” According to the Courier Journal, Fischer has put Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder in charge as interim police chief. Despite being fired, Conrad will still receive payment for any days earned and will keep his pension.
The morning of Conrad’s dismissal, Louisville Metro Police Department officers and National Guard soldiers began firing their weapons after officials said someone shot at the officers from a parking lot at 26th and Broadway. McAtee, the owner of YaYa’s BBQ in western Louisville, was fatally shot. The officers at the scene had not activated their body cameras, violating a policy that has been the subject of much discussion in recent weeks. The shooting is currently being investigated by local, state, and federal officials.
This is not the first incident involving a fatal shooting and lack of body came footage with Conrad as chief. On March 13, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician was killed in her apartment. At the time, the officers were not required to wear body cameras because they were in the Criminal Interdiction Unit. The city has revised that policy since the fatal shooting.
Conrad, who had served as police chief for eight years, had said last month he would retire at the end of June. His decision was based on the increasing pressure in the wake of Taylor’s shooting. This second fatal shooting, however, removed him from his position sooner than he had planned. His career with the Louisville Metro Police Department began in 1980 as a patrol officer. As the years passed, he rose to assistant chief before leaving to work for the police force in Glendale, Arizona. In 2012, he returned to Louisville and took over as chief.
Governor Andy Beshear and Council President David James, D-6th District, agreed that the decision to remove Conrad was the right one. According to Governor Beshear, “Before people can have trust that we will work for change, they’ve got to see that things make you mad, too. People need to know that you care, that you’re vested, that you’re committed to doing what’s right. Now is a chance to get things right. And I hope those tonight can believe in that sincerity and can give us that opportunity.”