Ed. Note: Greg Prickett is former police officer and supervisor who went to law school, hung out a shingle, and now practices criminal defense and family law in Fort Worth, Texas. While he was a police officer, he was a police firearms instructor, and routinely taught armed tactics to other officers.
On Monday, June 1, 2020, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired by the mayor, Greg Fischer. While this sort of thing happens all the time, since most chiefs serve at the will of the mayor or the city manager, depending on the structure of city government, this was an unusual case.
First, the chief was fired because the last two officer-involved shootings, both of which resulted in the death of honest, hard-working, black citizens who were not violating the law, were not caught on body cam video. Second, and no less important, was that Conrad was set to retire at the end of the month.
On Friday, March 13, 2020, at about 1:00 a.m., Louisville Metro Police (LMPD) executed a no-knock search warrant at the apartment of Breonna Taylor. The warrant was looking for someone who did not live at the apartment and who had no connection with either Taylor or her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Witnesses stated that the police did not knock or otherwise announce themselves. Walker, who thought that his home was being broken into, fired at the people entering and struck LMPD Sergeant John Mattingly in the leg. Police responded by firing 22 times, hitting Taylor at least 8 times and killing her.
Walker, after being jailed for two weeks, was released, which of course outraged both Chief Conrad and the local police union president. At the same time, it turns out that the individual that police were looking for was already in police custody. And in all of this, there was no body cam video, because members of the “Criminal Interdiction Division” are not issued the cameras. Taylor’s family has filed a federal lawsuit. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the matter for civil rights violations.
After protests started in Louisville following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, police and National Guard were going to clear an intersection of people. A shot rang out, people started firing. and David McAtee, a barbecue store owner at the intersection, was dead. At least two LMPD officers fired their weapons. And although these officers were equipped with body cams, not a single one was turned on. The FBI is looking into this case also.
Two officer involved shootings and no video? Governor Andy Beshear said flat out that this was unacceptable. Mayor Fischer apparently thought so too, firing Chief Conrad shortly after the lack of video became known. Fischer also noted that LMPD policy required that the cameras be turned on in those type of incidents, and said that disciplinary action was possible.
I’ll point out that the denizens over at PoliceOne are in shock. They can’t believe that the chief got fired, and arbitrarily decided that if police get shot at, the rules go out the window. None of them seem to understand what is happening right now. LMPD first obtained about 1,000 body cams in 2015. Yet they don’t issue the cameras to officers who are going to use a ram to bust down a door, and the officers that do have them don’t seem concerned about turning the cameras on.
And now something I predicted is happening. Elected officials are holding police administrators responsible for not supervising their officers. The elected officials have reached the point where they are not going to blindly back the police, and the police really, really, really don’t like it. The policy for no-knock warrants at LMPD now requires the chief of police to approve it before it goes to a judge. I’ll lay odds that cameras will be on more often. And I imagine that police oversight will change as a result of the deaths of Floyd and the others.
And that’s a good thing, for both the public and the police.
 While not trained on body cameras, I attended the Law Enforcement Mobile Video Institute (LEMVI) and was certified on mobile video cameras as an instructor. LEMVI was run by Jim Kuboviak, a former police officer who went to law school and who was the long time Brazos County Attorney.
 Identified as Officers Kate Crews and Allen Austin.