David McAtee’s family hosted a memorial barbecue on Tuesday evening to remember him a year after his death.
McAtee was shot and killed by Kentucky National Guard soldiers who were working with Louisville Metro Police to clear a large social gathering at 26th Street and Broadway. They were enforcing a curfew implemented by Mayor Greg Fischer during the first week of mass protests over the police killing of Breonna Taylor.
The barbecue chef’s family and neighbors gathered at that same location in Dino’s parking lot for the cookout, which featured McAtee’s cuisine of choice.
“We wanted to draw more attention to the case, more support from the city on trying to stop gun violence, period, by the police or within the community itself. And spread the love, because that’s all he wanted to do — spread love,” said Frank Wilson, McAtee’s cousin. He helped organize the memorial.
Wilson said McAtee, who owned YaYa’s BBQ, had a passion for feeding the community. That’s why the family wanted to honor that legacy with the barbecue.
The family also took part in a balloon release in his memory shortly after midnight Tuesday morning. Wilson said he’s had a difficult time processing McAtee’s killing, and he appreciates the community for coming together to celebrate his life.
“I had mixed emotions last year since June 1 about the whole situation,” Wilson said. “But last night, I can definitely say that that was beautiful, heartwarming. If I had to put it in one word, it’d probably be love.”
Last week, the state announced that no charges will be filed against the Guardsmen and LMPD officers who shot at McAtee. Wilson said the decision frustrated him, but he’ll continue to push for justice in the case.
“How do we hold the so-called protectors of the city accountable for their actions?” he said. “Anytime we wake up and come outside, you’re held accountable for what you do. And it seems like when you get a badge, a gun and a vest, you’re not accountable no more.”
This story has been updated.