Family Of Man Killed By National Guard In Louisville Files Wrongful Death Suit

Sep 21, 2020
Originally published on September 21, 2020 2:53 pm

The family of a 53-year-old Black man shot and killed by a National Guard soldier during protests this summer in Louisville, Ky., is filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the case.

David "Ya Ya" McAtee was killed just after midnight on June 1 by a single bullet to the chest while he stood in the doorway of his barbecue stand in the city's West End as police and National Guard troops enforcing a curfew converged on a crowd nearby. Investigators say the lethal shot was fired by a Guard soldier, who has not been publicly identified.

McAtee's mother, Odessa Riley, and niece Machelle McAtee — who was at the restaurant the night of her uncle's death and was hit by pepper balls while inside the doorway — are suing two individual LMPD officers and additional unnamed officers and members of the Kentucky National Guard, an attorney for the family, Steven Romines, tells Amina Elahi of member station WFPL.

The family accuses officers and soldiers of using excessive force and violating police department policies.

"Unaware of what was causing the chaos and who was shooting at his customers and his niece, David McAtee stepped out of the kitchen door to try and defend his restaurant, home, family and customers," the lawsuit states, according to WDRB television.

The night of McAtee's death, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear had ordered the Guard into Louisville's streets for the first time since 1975 in an effort to quell sometimes violent protests that had erupted over the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman who died earlier this year as police served a no-knock warrant at her house.

State and local authorities say security cameras and ballistic evidence indicate that McAtee fired a 9mm handgun at least twice and that two Guard soldiers and two police officers responded with a barrage of 19 rounds. Romines says McAtee may have fired his weapon as a warning.

Authorities have yet to publicly release results of the investigation.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for excessive use of force, negligence, trespassing and emotional distress, according to member station WFPL.

Marvin McAtee, nephew of Louisville police shooting victim David McAtee, discusses the recent shooting, in June. He was killed over the weekend in an apparently unrelated homicide.
Claire Galofaro / AP

Louisville has seen a surge in the number of homicides. McAtee's nephew, 47-year-old Marvin McAtee, was shot and killed over the weekend near the same 26th and Broadway intersection where the June shooting took place.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit