Mayor urges Council not to let impatience jeopardize investigations into Taylor, McAtee cases

July 14, 2020

As promised late last week, Louisville Forward, the economic and community development arm of Louisville Metro Government, and through its Department of Develop Louisville, today provided Metro Council with documents outlining the city’s multi-year work to stabilize and revitalize the Elliott Avenue area in west Louisville, along with a timeline specific to governmental activities at 2424 Elliott Avenue, per the Council’s request.

In a letter to Metro Council over the weekend, Mayor Greg Fischer noted that the Elliott Avenue work to combat vacant and abandoned properties “is one small piece of the larger Russell neighborhood revitalization and stabilization work we’ve been doing for years, including through three (3) HUD Choice Neighborhoods grants and the Vision Russell initiative.”

As Council knows “from all of our work together under this initiative,” he added, “the goal is to provide a safe, clean, desirable, and affordable neighborhood for the residents of Russell, including those on Elliott Avenue.”

The efforts by Louisville Forward date back to 2014 and 2015, as the city received its first HUD Choice Neighborhood grant and was working to identify vacant and abandoned properties in the Russell neighborhood. The staff of Louisville Forward and its member departments have said they welcome engaging further with Metro Council on the revitalization work ongoing on Elliott Avenue and throughout Russell.

Today, in response to the new Council Government Oversight and Audit Committee’s threat to issue subpoenas to get information about that project, as well as the Breonna Taylor and David McAtee cases, Mayor Fischer noted that the administration has always provided Council with information they seek and answered all questions it is able to answer.

“I’m not clear on why Council would need to issue subpoenas, since we have never declined to make Metro employees available for council and committee meetings, nor declined to provide any data that we’re able to provide,” the Mayor said, adding that the threat of subpoena is just unnecessary. “All Council has to do is ask, and we’ll provide what we’re able to release.”

In his letter to Council, Mayor Fischer asked if there was a misunderstanding related to their request for “all documents that relate to the Breonna Taylor case,” given they know that would include investigative materials currently being reviewed by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Attorney General for potential criminal prosecution.

“Obviously, and for the reasons that I have stated for several weeks, your requests cannot be honored at this time. The FBI and the Attorney General’s office have sent letters to Metro stating that premature release of investigative materials will compromise their investigations. … Further, since the termination of Officer Hankinson – due to his conduct in the Breonna Taylor case – I am further bound to refrain from commenting on any matter relating to that case as well per KRS 67C.326(1)(f).”

“My goal from the start has been to get to the truth in this case and see justice done,” Mayor Fischer said today. “That’s why I asked the AG and the FBI to do their own investigations, and why I welcome a review by the Department of Justice. And that’s why I have not waited for those investigations to be complete before making important changes, like those now codified in Breonna’s Law, as well as the start of a top-down review of LMPD and a national search for a new permanent police chief.”

Regarding Council questions about the death of David McAtee, the Kentucky National Guard was working with local police all day on June 1 and responded with them that night after LMPD was dispatched regarding a large crowd gathered at 26th and Broadway. The state confirmed nine days later that the fatal bullet striking McAtee was fired by one of two Kentucky National Guard soldiers. The Kentucky State Police is providing independent oversight to the LMPD Public Integrity Unit investigation in the case, and the FBI is conducting a separate investigation into the incident.

“I understand that people are impatient for answers in these cases. I am as well. But it’s important that we do nothing to jeopardize these investigations,” he said. “And I know the majority of Council feel the same.”

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