7 Shot At Louisville Protest Calling For Justice For Breonna Taylor
Updated at 4:27 p.m. ET
Seven people were shot in downtown Louisville, Ky., at a protest Thursday evening calling for justice for a 26-year-old black woman who was shot and killed in her apartment by police in March.
The protests started peacefully. But shortly after 11:30 p.m., gunfire erupted.
It's not yet clear who did the shooting, though Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said during a Friday morning press conference that the shots did not come from police.
All shooting victims are "stable and recovering," Fischer said.
The mayor thanked the majority of protesters who were peaceful and he expressed sympathy for those mourning the loss of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her apartment on March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation.
The audio of a 911 call made by Taylor's boyfriend, who was with her that night, was released earlier Thursday.
The unrest in Louisville happened on the same night that protests escalated in Minneapolis, where demonstrators called for justice over the death of George Floyd.
Fischer also spoke of the "historical injustice" felt by those in his city and throughout the country who are "tired and sick of story after story of black lives ending at the hands of law enforcement."
"We must find a way to stop this cycle of injustice," Fischer said before urging residents of Louisville for peace in future protests.
"The violence and demonstration and the destruction that we saw last night will not get us there. It will create more tragedies rather than prevent them," Fischer said.
'I don't know where the shots came from'
Ryan Van Velzer, a reporter for WFPL in Louisville, described a chaotic scene in front of City Hall on Thursday.
"There were several gunshots and two people went down. I don't know where the shots came from," he reported.
People in the crowd ran, Van Velzer reported, adding police were able set up a barrier and provide help to the victims.
"It looked like at least one man was shot in the abdomen. I saw blood," he said. "Don't know what happened to the other person, but I saw them laying 5 or 10 feet away."
The station also reported that areas around the protest sustained damage by the end of the evening.
"Protesters damaged the statue of King Louis XVI outside Metro Hall and slashed vehicle tires," WFPL reported. "Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets."
Louisville Metro Police Lt. Col. LaVita Chavous said at the Friday press briefing that officers fired tear gas into the crowd only after gunshots had been fired from within the crowd.
The extent of the damage from the unrest is still being tallied, but Chavous said windows were broken and multiple shots were fired into buildings including a courthouse and the Louisville Metro Police Department headquarters.
Two officers were treated at a local hospital.
One arrest was made for disorderly conduct and failure to disperse.
"All off days for officers have been canceled as we ready to staff any additional situations that arise," Chavous said.
She said there are no plans to bring in the National Guard, but it is possible other agencies outside of Louisville will be brought in to assist.
There are more protests scheduled over the weekend, including one planned by Taylor's family in front of the mayor's office at Louisville's Metro Hall, WHAS, a local ABC affiliate, reports.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Louisville Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey, who watched as the streets filled with protesters, said that what happened was "not a riot."
"It's a revolt against a system in which people have felt oppressed," said Dorsey. "What I'm seeing is people who are trying their best to do something with their hurt, their pain and their frustration."
Violence in Louisville took place despite calls from the Taylor family to keep protests peaceful.
"We are so grateful for everyone giving Bre a voice tonight, for saying her name, for demanding truth, for demanding justice and for demanding accountability," Taylor's sister Juniyah Palmer posted to Facebook on Thursday.
She added: "We demand change. We demand reform. But we do not need for our community to get hurt. We need for our community to get justice."
Latest in the Breonna Taylor case
Police were executing a search warrant for at Taylor's apartment after midnight on March 13.
The officers say they announced their presence, then forced their way into the apartment, WFPL's Amina Elahi reported Friday on NPR.
"By then, she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was there with her that night were scared. And Kenneth Walker says he fired a warning shot at the police because he thought some intruder was breaking in," Elahi reported.
"The police fired back, more than 20 shots, and eight of them struck Breonna Taylor and killed her," she said.
Earlier this week, Walker was released from custody. He had been charged with first-degree assault and attempting to murder a police officer, though Walker has maintained he thought the officers, who were executing a "no knock" warrant, were intruders.
Last week, Fischer, the Louisville mayor, announced that an internal investigation into the matter had been handed over to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office.
A day after that announcement, on May 21, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said he plans to retire in June, as scrutiny over his department's handling of the Taylor case was drawing national attention.
That same day, FBI Louisville announced it also is investigating the Taylor shooting.
"The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner, special agent in charge Robert Brown said in a statement.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.