The police chief at the center of a scandal involving his officers shooting and killing an unarmed Black woman in her own home has unexpectedly announced he will be calling it quits. The surprise retirement announcement on Thursday by Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad came a little more than two months after Louisville police officers botched the serving of a warrant and shot Breonna Taylor eight times while she was sleeping.
Conrad’s retirement was expected to go into effect starting June 30. His announcement came on the same day that the FBI announced it planned to investigate the deadly police shooting.
Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney representing Taylor’s family, has said the 26-year-old EMT on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus was “executed.” He has also called for Conrad to be fired if he does not fire the officers who killed Taylor and shot her boyfriend on March 13.
Kenneth Walker, who was hit by police’s bullets, legally shot his gun at police suspecting they were burglars while they were serving a warrant for a drug raid at the wrong location. In turn, he was charged with the attempted murder of a police officer. However, it was later reported that the officer who got hit was actually struck by friendly fire from one of his fellow cops.
Still, despite the above, Louisville’s mayor showered Conrad with accolades in a press release acknowledging the police chief’s intentions to retire just as a scandalous arguably criminal investigation was taking place within his department. The press release made not a single mention of Breonna Taylor or Kenneth Walker or even hint that Conrad’s job was in jeopardy.
“In his decades as a public servant, Chief Conrad has shown a deep commitment to justice, innovation and fairness,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a brief statement. “As our Police Chief for the past eight years, he has worked tirelessly on improving transparency and community policing. Most importantly, he has been a kind, decent, fierce advocate and protector of the city he loves, and a respected colleague. I appreciate that he is staying through the end of the fiscal year to help us ensure a smooth transition, as we continue to grapple with budget challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The “trap house” where the cops’ warrant was actually supposed to be executed was located miles away from Taylor’s home. At the time of the botched raid, the suspect who police were looking for was already in custody. The entire incident pointed to a larger issue of competence and communication, both of which were missing from the fatal raid and theoretically should be blamed on Conrad, the department’s chief.
Local news outlet WDRB reported that “Conrad’s tenure has been marked by several high-profile controversies, including accusations that the two former officers sexually abused teen participants in the youth mentoring Explorer program.” There are at least seven existing lawsuits against his department.
“He also was chief during a rise in violence in the city, a period in recent years marked by multiple years with more than 100 murders,” WDRB added. “In 2016, police investigated a record 117 homicides.”
Even so, Conrad has managed to avoid anything more than scrutiny in Breonna Taylor’s case as he plans to retire.