LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — At least seven people were shot in Louisville as hundreds of protesters converged on City Hall demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot in March by police who broke down her door.
Louisville Metro Police said early Friday that at least one person was in critical condition. “No officers discharged their service weapons,” and all seven shot were civilians, police spokesman Sgt. Lamont Washington wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
“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.
Thursday night’s demonstration came as protesters across the country, in cities including Los Angeles, Denver, New York and Memphis, turned out in alliance with demonstrators in Minneapolis, where George Floyd became the latest black man to die in police custody.
It also came hours after the release of a 911 call Taylor’s boyfriend made on March 13, moments after the 26-year-old emergency medical technician was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door. No drugs were found in the home.
“I don’t know what is happening,” 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 and the mayor changed policies on no-knock search warrants. The officers have been placed on leave while the shooting is investigated, but have not been disciplined.
Around 500 to 600 demonstrators marched through the Kentucky city’s downtown streets, the 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.
“Understandably, emotions are high,” Fischer tweeted just before midnight, sharing a Facebook post that appealed for people to remain non-violent as they demand justice and accountability. “As Breonna’s mother says let’s be peaceful as we work toward truth and justice,” the mayor wrote.
Attention on Taylor’s death has intensified after her family sued the police department this month. The case has attracted national headlines alongside the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in a Georgia neighborhood in February.
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 armor 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.
WFPL reporter Ryan Van Velzer posted on Twitter that he saw two black men shot in front of him. He said he did not see where the bullets came from, but said police quickly found the men on the ground and started delivering first aid.
Kentuckians are still under social distancing mandates driven by the coronavirus pandemic. Many protesters wore masks.
Chants early Friday included “No justice, no peace” and “Whose streets? Our streets.”