The Louisville Metro Police Chief announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of June after eight years leading the department. The news comes in the wake of public outcry in response to the fatal shooting of 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad will leave office on June 30. Deputy Chief Robert Schroeder will serve as interim chief of the department while a search for a permanent chief is conducted, according to Mayor Greg Fischer, who broke the news in a press release.
"It has been the highlight of my professional career to be Louisville's police chief," Conrad, 63, said in a statement. "LMPD is full of amazing men and women who come to work each day to do their best for this community and has been a privilege to lead them."
Conrad assured that his stepping down was his own choice and not forced on by the mayor, a spokesperson for the department said Thursday.
“In his decades as a public servant, Chief Conrad has shown a deep commitment to justice, innovation and fairness,” the mayor said in a statement. “… [H]e has been a kind, decent, fierce advocate and protector of the city he loves, and a respected colleague.”
Conrad came under scrutiny after news of Taylor's death broke. Taylor was shot to death when three officers opened fire at her Louisville apartment in the middle of the night on March 13.
Police obtained a no-knock warrant before using a battering ram to enter Taylor's apartment at around 1 a.m. as part of a narcotics investigation, according to court documents obtained by the Louisville-Courier Journal.
The FBI is now investigating the death of Taylor and the March 13 shooting at her apartment. “The FBI will collect all facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” a statement on the update said.
Taylor's family has filed a lawsuit against three officers with the department, alleging Taylor and her boyfriend were home in bed and thought they were being burglarized when officers showed up at their home after midnight. Taylor’s boyfriend, 27-year-old Kenneth Walker, allegedly opened fire on cops with his licensed weapon and one officer was shot in the leg, police said. The lawsuit says police then fired more than 20 round into the home “blindly.”
Louisville police claim they knocked on Taylor’s door several times while executing their warrant before entering and identified themselves as police before they were “immediately met by gunfire,” according to Lt. Ted Eidem.
Neighbors of Taylor and Walker, however, said police did not identify themselves, according to the family’s lawsuit. Walker called 911 during the ordeal and police informed him he’d shot an officer.
Walker has been charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer. Walker has pleaded not guilty and has been released to "home incarceration."
Neither Taylor nor Walker were the investigation's target. Police had suspected, though, that Taylor’s home was used by another person to receive drugs. Neither Taylor nor Walker had any criminal history and no drugs were located in the home.