The Louisville Community that Loves David McAtee Has a Question About His Death: NPR | Instant News


David McAtee is remembered as the “community pillar” and owner of Yaya BBQ in Louisville. He was killed Monday when police and the National Guard shot him in his business while dispersing protesters.

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David McAtee is remembered as the “community pillar” and owner of Yaya BBQ in Louisville. He was killed Monday when police and the National Guard shot him in his business while dispersing protesters.

Walt & Shae Smith

David McAtee, owner of BBQ Yaya, is a loved equipment in the Russell neighborhood in Louisville, Ky., Remembered as a pillar of the community and known to provide food for free, even to local police officers.

His death at the hands of law enforcement has shocked those who know him.

McAtee, a chef, was killed on Monday morning in the barbecue business when officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department and National Guard forces responded to reports of a crowd gathering after the city at 9 pm. curfew near the corner of 26th Street and Broadway.

The officers used pepper balls to disperse the crowd when gunshots rang out. Shortly afterwards, officers fired live ammunition, attacking and killing McAtee. Officials say McAtee fired the weapon first.

In a February interview with a local photo blog West of the NinthMcAtee said he had been in the business for 30 years, but at this location for the past two years. He has plans to buy many of his businesses so he can grow.

“I always wanted to be in this place, and when there was an opportunity, I took it. If I leave, someone else will take it. I have built my client, and I am not trying to let go of my client,” McAtee said.

‘She’s basically a grandmother, but she’s a man’

Family, friends and community leaders have questions about what happened on Monday morning and have doubts that various events occurred as described by the police.

“He feeds everyone,” McAtee’s niece, said Marvin McAtee. “Feed everyone, even the people who killed him. Free.”

Speaking to NPR, Ari Shapiro in front of his uncle’s business, the younger McAtee said that he remembered the man he called “not being virtuous, someone who enjoyed his family and was known by several people,” as the BBQ Man.

“The first entrepreneur,” McAtee, 28, said his uncle. “Growing up in a family, family oriented. He’s the one – he’s basically a grandmother, but he’s a boy – uniting the family, you know?”

Marvin McAtee was among several family members and friends who had gathered to mourn together on Tuesday at Yaya BBQ, where Elder McAtee worked and lived. Marvin said his uncle made it a friendly place, with friends and family stopping by every day.

Marvin was absent when his uncle was killed Monday morning but did not believe that his uncle would shoot the officers.

“He will calm down and ease any kind of situation. Even the police, they have no problems with this man,” he said.

Younger McAtee said he was still trying to process his new reality.

“He died as I imagined[d] that, “he said.” The only way he can die is to save someone. And that is precisely how he died. ”

McAtee said he believed “unc” died while trying to save his niece.

Before David McAtee opened Yaya’s BBQ, he worked as chief cook at an American Volunteer shelter and a halfway house in Louisville.

Brandon Smallwood works next to him as a kitchen manager, and says McAtee likes caring for people, just as much as he likes to cook for them.

“All the shelter residents there, they are like family,” said Smallwood. “He likes to feed everyone. He likes to make people happy. He is just, like, a happy person.”

Police Investigation

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McAtee’s murder sparked direct protests in Louisville, where daily demonstrations have been held to protest the deaths George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who was also killed by the police.

Then Monday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fire the police chief when it was learned that the LMPD officers who responded to the incident Monday morning all failed to activate their body cameras, a violation of department policy.

Official released two security camera videos Tuesday which according to the police seemed to indicate that McAtee had weapons and fired first, before they returned fire.

In two videos, one interior and one exterior, about a dozen people can be seen rushing inside the open door in the McAtee building as the police move forward. McAtee was seen reaching out the door. Soon after that he gripped his chest, stumbled back inside and fell on the floor.

Kentucky State Rep. Attica Scott said David McAtee, owner of BBQ Yaya, was loved by the community in the West End section of Louisville. “Mr. McAtee was never a problem for anyone. He was loved by his community. Then suddenly we got the National Guard and the state police, and he was dead.”

Becky Sullivan / NPR


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Becky Sullivan / NPR

Kentucky State Rep. Attica Scott said David McAtee, owner of BBQ Yaya, was loved by the community in the West End section of Louisville. “Mr. McAtee was never a problem for anyone. He was loved by his community. Then suddenly we got the National Guard and the state police, and he was dead.”

Becky Sullivan / NPR

“I will only say that we still have many questions, and that this video can raise more questions than answers,” Assistant Chief of Police LaVita Chavous said Tuesday.

Marvin McAtee said he wanted to know why the National Guard appeared with heavy weapons to respond to calls about a damaged curfew.

“Answer me this question: Why is the National Guard even in the West End? Protests did not take place in the West End. They were in the center of the city,” Marvin said. “Then you are all bound with deadly bullets. What happened to the pellets, tear gas? They have deadly bullets here, empty parking lots?”

Rep. Attica Scott, who represented the part of Louisville where McAtee was killed, said his death was caused by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s decision to bring the National Guard to help organize protests in Louisville, a decision he called “escalation” of law enforcement against our community. ”

“It makes me angry that police violence is facing more police violence,” Scott said. “Mr. McAtee was never a problem for anyone. He was loved by his community. Then suddenly we got the National Guard and the state police, and he was dead.”

Sarah Handel and Becky Sullivan from NPR contributed to this report.



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