Gov. Andy Beshear says he doesn’t regret sending the National Guard to Louisville to assist with the city’s response to protests over racism and police violence.
The National Guard was in Louisville starting on Saturday May 30, and on early Monday morning two National Guardsmen were involved in the shooting death of local barbecue chef David McAtee, who state and police officials say fired first.
The incident has sparked outrage from people across the city, state and country already protesting police violence against Black people.
During a press briefing Wednesday, Beshear said he felt justified in sending the National Guard to Louisville because of “significant damage and real concerns for violence” during the first two days of protests.
“At that point, I believe the guard was necessary and what could’ve happened[…]it was important to have them there,” Beshear said.
After dispersing protests in downtown Louisville Sunday night, a group of National Guard and Louisville police officers were sent to clear a crowd gathered at 26th and Broadway in west Louisville, where McAtee’s restaurant is located.
LMPD officials have said that McAtee was first to shoot and that National Guard and police officers returned fire. Louisville police officers who fired on McAtee didn’t activate their body cameras, according to police, which is a violation of policy.
State officials revealed on Tuesday that McAtee was killed by a single bullet that was shot out of a National Guard rifle.
Beshear said on Wednesday that he is committed to conducting a transparent investigation into McAtee’s death.
“Hopefully by the end of that, everybody can look at that and make conclusions both to the incident itself and if they want to evaluate my call on the National Guard,” Beshear said.
Beshear said he was not involved in the decision to send National Guard troops to west Louisville, but rather that decision was made by “LMPD and folks on the ground.”
He said he would like to have more control over where the National Guard is deployed once they are on the ground.
“Having more direct access to that information on an ongoing basis is certainly something I want to see,” Beshear said.
When asked about calls to “defund the police,” Beshear said he doesn’t believe in reducing funding to law enforcement, but instead increasing funding to social services and mental health treatment.
“This concept of defunding the police I don’t think is as much about taking dollars away from law enforcement,” Beshear said. “We throw law enforcement at problems that even law enforcement feel they shouldn’t be addressing.”