During a live broadcast on Friday night, a news crew covering protests in Louisville, Kentucky, was fired upon by a police officer who used guns that shot pepper balls.
The crew, reporter Kaitlin Rust and two camera operators for NBC affiliate WAVE in Louisville, were broadcasting from the scene of a protest inspired by Breonna Taylor, a Louisville EMT who in March was killed in her own home by police who went to the wrong address while executing a warrant, and George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed by a police officer on Memorial Day.
In the clip, Rust is wearing a bright safety vest and is clearly identified as a journalist. As she explains to the news anchors what she’s seeing on the ground, the camera turns away from Rust and toward a line of police officers, at which point Rust can be heard screaming in pain just off camera. “I’m getting shot, I’m getting…” Rust says, still off camera.
“Katie, Katie, are you OK?” the anchor asks, at which point Rust hastily adds “rubber bullets, rubber bullets, it’s OK. It’s those pepper bullets.” As she’s speaking, the camera turns to an officer who appears to aim his gun directly into the camera. Watch the whole clip below:
This just happened on live tv. Wow, what a douche bag. pic.twitter.com/dQKheEcCvb
— Christopher Bishop (@ChrisBishopL1C4) May 30, 2020
According to WAVE, Louisville police confirmed they use pepper balls and not rubber bullets. Police did not explain why their officers targeted media, or aimed weapons directly at live cameras.
“I want to apologize,” a Louisville Metro Police spokesperson told the Louisville Courier-Journal, promising an investigation into the matter. “It’s not something that should have occurred if she was singled out as a reporter, and that is what the video looks like occurred.”
The incident came hours after Minneapolis police arrested a CNN reporter and camera crew while they were live on air reporting on protests in that city. The three journalists were later released.
The protests in Louisville were just one of many sweeping the country Friday inspired by people killed by police. Among them, in Atlanta earlier Friday, protesters vandalized CNN headquarters, while in Los Angeles on Friday night, protesters and police clashed in downtown.