7 people shot in Kentucky in protests over police shooting death of Breonna Taylor
Police say they did not fire Thursday as people gathered to protest death of woman killed on March 13
At least seven people were shot in Louisville as protesters turned out to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March.
Louisville Metro Police confirmed in a statement early Friday that there were at least seven shooting victims, at least one of whom is in critical condition. The statement said there were "some arrests," but police didn't provide a number.
"No officers discharged their service weapons," police spokesperson Sgt. Lamont Washington wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Washington said that all seven were civilians.
"I feel the community's frustration, the anger, the fear, but tonight's violence and destruction is not the way to solve it," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a video posted to Twitter. He said two of the wounded underwent surgery and five were in good condition.
"Understandably, emotions are high," Fischer tweeted just before midnight in an appeal for calm. "As Breonna's mother says, let's be peaceful as we work toward truth and justice."
Killed in controversial raid
The protests came hours after the release of a 911 call Taylor's boyfriend made on March 13. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door.
"I don't know what is happening," Kenneth Walker told a dispatcher during the two-minute call. "Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend."
Walker can be heard on the call crying and calling Taylor's name. He says Taylor is on the ground and that she was shot in the stomach.
Federal and state officials are reviewing the police department's internal investigation, the police chief announced his retirement earlier than expected and the mayor changed policies on no-knock search warrants. Three officers involved in the incident have been placed on leave while the shooting is investigated, but have not been disciplined.
Taylor's family has sued the Louisville Metro Police Department.
No drugs were found at the home, and police dropped attempted murder charges for Walker. He had been arrested after firing his gun during the raid.
Demonstrators march downtown
Around 500 to 600 demonstrators marched through the Kentucky city's downtown streets on Thursday night, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. The protests continued for more than six hours, ending in the early hours of Friday as rain poured down.
At one point, protesters took turns hoisting the stone hand of King Louis XVI after it was broken off his statue outside city hall. Shots were later heard, prompting some of the protesters to scramble for safety.
Around 12:20 a.m., Fischer tweeted a video that he said was a message from Taylor's family.
"Louisville, thank you so much for saying Breonna's name tonight. We are not going to stop until we get justice," a woman says in the video. "But we should stop tonight before people get hurt. Please go home, be safe and be ready to keep fighting."
Meanwhile, live video from downtown Louisville around 12:30 a.m. showed some protesters behind makeshift wooden barricades, which appeared to be made out of picnic tables spray-painted with the words, "You can't kill us all." A small fire inside a trash can was visible in the middle of the street.
Police in body armour and face shields held batons and lined up downtown. They appeared to fire rubber bullets and deploy tear gas canisters, fogging the air and inducing coughs among the remaining members of the crowd. Protesters recorded officers with their cellphones.
Kentuckians are still under physical distancing mandates driven by the coronavirus pandemic. Many protesters wore masks.
Chants early Friday included "No justice, no peace" and "Whose streets? Our streets."
Thursday's demonstration came as protesters across the country — from Los Angeles to Memphis, Tenn., to New York to Minneapolis itself — have demonstrated against the death of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody.