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Activists cautiously hopeful after federal indictment of former LMPD officer connected to David McAtee's death

Activists said this is a small step toward progress, but they said it’s hard to be optimistic knowing there's a chance that a conviction won't follow.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Community leaders in Louisville are cautiously optimistic about the federal indictment of a former Metro police officer.

Former officer Katie Crews is accused of violating the civil rights of a relative of barbeque restaurant owner David McAtee, who was shot and killed by the Kentucky National Guard in June 2020.

The Department of Justice’s indictment says Crews violated Machelle McAtee’s civil rights the night David McAtee died by firing pepper balls at her, hitting her while she was, "standing on private property and not posing a threat to the defendant or others."

Surveillance cameras from the night recorded some of the pepper balls being fired in that direction.

Standing in front of Ya-Ya's, the restaurant McAtee owned and where he died, community leader and activist Rhonda Mathis said this moment is only possible because of their voices.

"This is just a little step in the right direction,” Mathis said. "I hope the young people who's been a loud voice in this for justice continue to do good trouble and stay in the streets as far as bringing awareness and accountability."

Bishop Dennis V. Lyons of Gospel Missionary Church said today can be used as a foundation to see there are more people being held accountable for the injustices taking place in the Black community. He’s also the president of a civil-rights organization called the ‘Voice of Louisville.’

Lamont Collins, the founder of the Root 101 African American History Museum in Louisville, said that's evident. He stood in the museum’s ‘protest room,’ which is an archive of historical flashpoints, including the Breonna Taylor protests. A picture of McAtee hangs nearby, along with several people killed by police.

"Fighting for justice has been too often the demands of Black people,” Collins said. "Too many times we see indictments and not convictions. This community wants to see convictions. We want to see people actually serve time for injustices that they do, so we'll see what the court system does."

In a statement, the DOJ said if convicted, crews faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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