Metro Government sues Metro Council, aims to block law enforcement leaders from testifying about civil unrest

Monday marks day 54 of protests in Louisville, following the shooting death of Breonna Taylor....
Monday marks day 54 of protests in Louisville, following the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. One group is taking that protest further with a hunger strike.
Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 12:40 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Led by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the city's Metro Government has filed a lawsuit against its Metro Council members in an attempt to block two law enforcement leaders from testifying in open court about the recent unrest across the city.

>> Scroll down to read the lawsuit

In the more than 40-page lawsuit obtained by WAVE 3 News on Tuesday, the city seeks to keep the testimony of Metro Government’s Chief of Public Safety Amy Hess and Interim LMPD Chief Rob Schroeder under the protection of an executive session.

At a Government Oversight and Audit Committee hearing on Aug. 3, Hess and Schroeder declined to answer questions about the police department’s response to citywide protests the last two-plus months.

At that hearing, attorneys representing Fischer’s office told council members that Schroeder and Hess should not be required to testify because of a new civil lawsuit filed the previous week. That complaint names Fischer, Schroeder, and LMPD officers for alleged use-of-force violations during the protests that at times became violent.

Breonna Taylor’s neighbors on Friday described the drama that unfolded on their street back in...
Breonna Taylor’s neighbors on Friday described the drama that unfolded on their street back in March when LMPD officers engaged her boyfriend in a gun battle, leaving the 26-year-old dead in her own apartment.

The LMPD shooting death of Breonna Taylor in March and the National Guard shooting death of David McAtee in June have made Louisville essentially ground zero for the racial reckoning currently seen across many U.S. cities.

It’s not uncommon for law-enforcement entities to decline comment when litigation is pending, but Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson said following last week’s hearing that “what chief Schroeder did or did not do, is a fact. We just want him to testify about it. What Chief Hess did or did not do, is a fact. Just tell us the truth about it.”

Committee members said the questions they had intended to ask last week were broad in scope.

On Aug. 5, the GOAC issued subpoenas compelling Hess and Schroeder to testify on Aug. 17.

“Although the subpoena does not expressly indicate the testimony will be sought in open session, that fact appears clear from all surrounding circumstances,” the new lawsuit read. “In an effort to continue to find common ground and avoid a legal dispute, (the plaintiff) renewed its commitment to presenting Chief Hess to testify in an open meeting at a time when she could reasonably do so without adversely impacting the pending litigation.”

When reached for comment Tuesday, Ackerson said, “Shame on the mayor and the lengths that he will go to to try to hide the truth from the citizens of Louisville. The Administration’s actions (Tuesday) are a sad state for transparency and accountability in the city.”

WAVE 3 News reporter Kaitlin Rust asked Fischer whether the lawsuit intends to keep Hess and Schroeder from testifying.

“Well, that was the purpose of filing that order, to get clarity around that,” he said Tuesday. “So the judge, I think, is going to have a meeting with all parties in two weeks or so to work through the details around that. So, that’s still up in the air but right now it is certainly restrained from that. But, again, let me be clear, at the right time all of that information will be shared. We’ve also offered to their committee other resources if they want to talk about the Elliott Avenue Place Based Investigations. We said we’d be happy to talk about that. It’s not subject to any suit or any activities.”

The PBI squad has become the subject of new reporting by WAVE 3 Troubleshooters, whose primary focus was designed to investigate high-crime areas. The aforementioned Elliott Avenue location was the block that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, lived on and was part of a PBI investigation.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has called two news conferences this summer to announce that his office’s investigation is continuing, but he has not committed to a timetable for his announcement on whether to criminally charge the officers involved in Taylor’s death.

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