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Kentucky State Police to release Louisville police shooting video, Beshear says. But when?

Louisville Courier-Journal logo Louisville Courier-Journal 11/29/2020 Emma Austin and Lucas Aulbach, Louisville Courier Journal
a street filled with traffic at night: Investigators work the scene where an LMPD officer fatality shot a person near the intersection of 22nd and Gilligan streets in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 23, 2020. © Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal Investigators work the scene where an LMPD officer fatality shot a person near the intersection of 22nd and Gilligan streets in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 23, 2020.

Body camera footage of the fatal police shooting of a man during a Louisville traffic stop has yet to be released to the public, but Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday he has "a full expectation" it will be.

For the first time under new protocols instituted this year, Kentucky State Police is investigating a shooting by a Louisville Metro Police officer instead of the city department. 

Brian Allen Thurman, 49, who was white, was shot by an officer at approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday during a traffic stop at 21st and Gilligan streets, according to officials. He died about half an hour later at University of Louisville Hospital.

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The vehicle in which he was riding had been reported stolen, LMPD interim Chief Yvette Gentry said at a press conference about 2 1/2 hours after the incident. She said a woman who was in the passenger seat fled the scene and had yet to be located.

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Repeated requests for comment sent Monday and Tuesday to LMPD concerning the woman and the status of the officer involved in the shooting — who was treated for injuries at the hospital and released after the incident — have gone unanswered.

However, Gentry did say in an emailed statement Monday evening that standard practice for the department is to release body cam footage of officer shootings within 24 hours but state police decided against it. KSP spokesman Sgt. William Gregory told The Courier Journal on Monday the video would not be released "until vital witnesses can be interviewed and pertinent facts gathered."

The new protocol requiring an outside agency to investigate LMPD shootings was introduced over the summer after the city reached a settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was unarmed when she was killed by police during a failed drug raid at her apartment on March 13.  

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said KSP initially agreed to LMPD's practice of releasing body camera footage within 24 hours but later said they would not be able to do so given "logistical challenges."

"It's important that this body camera evidence is seen by the community, so that they can understand what took place in any given tragedy such as this," Fischer said during a Tuesday briefing on the coronavirus.

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KSP agreed to the 72-hour time frame, and the footage should be released by late Wednesday evening, Fischer said.

When asked during his Tuesday briefing why the footage hasn't been released, Beshear said he has "a full expectation that it will be released to the public."

"My understanding in being briefed today is it is going to be released," the governor said. "There is one or two steps that they hope to accomplish over the next day or so that need to be done before that release."

Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Fischer, said later Tuesday KSP signed a written agreement in October to act as a primary investigating agency for LMPD critical incidents including officer-involved shootings.

KSP later said the agreement had been mistakenly signed and needed to be revoked, Porter said. The department agreed to serve as an investigating agency for any incidents that arose within LMPD before a new agreement could be reached.

"Our goal is to be as transparent as possible, and as we said Monday, our initial agreement with KSP called for keeping to our past practice of releasing body cam footage expeditiously after an incident," Porter said in an email. "In this case, KSP said they could not meet our timeline while protecting the integrity of the investigation, though the Justice Cabinet clarified they anticipate being able to do so within 72 hours of the incident."

In a statement later Tuesday night, acting KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. said KSP and LMPD had exchanged drafts earlier this year of a memorandum of understanding that would provide guidelines for KSP to follow when it took over an investigation of a shooting involving LMPD officers. Those two sides have yet to come to an agreement, though, he said, and therefore the shooting of Thurman will be handled following KSP's existing protocols, which have been in place since 2017.

Generally, Burnett said, body camera footage can be released within 72 hours of a shooting, after interviews with witnesses are complete and other facts are gathered. Still, he did not say when the footage of Sunday's fatal shooting in Portland will be made available to the public.

“It is our top priority to protect the integrity of all investigations handled by our agency; therefore, we do not release video footage or specific details until it is safe to do so in the investigative process for witness and officer safety," Burnett said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Gregory said LMPD and KSP “continue ongoing discussions to swiftly finalize an updated MOU between the two parties.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified KSP spokesman Sgt. William Gregory.

Reach Emma Austin at eaustin@gannett.com or on Twitter at @emmacaustin. Lucas Aulbach can be reached at laulbach@courier-journal.com, 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAulbach.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky State Police to release Louisville police shooting video, Beshear says. But when?

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