In the week since a police officer killed George Floyd, protesters in cities across the U.S. have hit the streets to demand justice and call for an end to police brutality against Black Americans who have been killed for driving in their cars, sleeping in their homes, and taking public transportation.
While widespread coverage of protests has shown instances of police violence against protesters, fewer have noted that several protesters have died while demonstrating against injustice. On Sunday night, a 22-year-old Black man named James Scurlock was shot and killed by a white bar owner in Omaha, Nebraska, while attending a protest for Floyd in the city's downtown area.
The bar owner, Jake Gardner, was taken into police custody that evening, but the county attorney said Monday that he will not be charged in Scurlock's death. The police ruled based on bystander video that Gardner shot the 22-year-old in self-defense, as at the time of the shooting Scurlock can apparently be seen holding Gardner in a chokehold while Gardner is laying on his back in the street. BuzzFeed News had previously reported that Gardner had alleged used racial slurs against Scurlock, though the Omaha World-Herald's reporting disputed that claim.
In Detroit on Friday, meanwhile, a 21-year-old was shot in his vehicle near where a protest was taking place. Detroit police are currently investigating the shooting. A fatal shooting also occurred at a protest in Floyd's honor Saturday night in Indianapolis, though local police have not released details as to the identity of the victim nor whether an investigation is underway.
In Louisville, Kentucky, amid protests for justice for Breonna Taylor, officers and National Guard soldiers shot into a crowd in the early morning hours Monday, killing one man. Taylor was a 26-year-old EMT who was shot and killed in March, while she was sleeping in her own home in March, by police officers who were executing a search warrant based on a drug investigation of another person.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said the officers and soldiers were sent to "clear" a parking lot where protestors had gathered. At "some point" the police and National Guard were "shot at" and "returned fire," Conrad said. He has yet to identify who fired the fatal shot, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) called for an investigation into the killing. Late Monday afternoon, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced that Conrad had been fired, in part because the officers involved in the shooting had not activated their body cameras, which Fischer called an "institutional failure."
The victim was David McAtee, the owner of a local restaurant. McAtee's mother, Odessa Riley, told the local news that her son "left a great legend behind. He was a good person. Everybody around him would say that."
McAtee's sister refutes that her brother was gathered in protest Sunday evening. She told local station WAVE 3 that he was helping to serve food to community members, who typically gathered outside the restaurant on Sunday nights.
Protesters and other activists have warned against the militarization of police, which in recent days has resulted in curfews, mass arrests, and tanks rolling into empty city streets in an attempt to restore "order." As was well-documented over the weekend, increased law enforcement presence often resulted in violent clashes between officers and demonstrators — and in McAtee's case, more unnecessary death.