Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad announces retirement amid controversy

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Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad announces retirement amid controversy.

Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad plans to retire in June after more than eight years in charge, a move that comes as his department faces national scrutiny over the death of Breonna Taylor.

Mayor Greg Fischer said in a news release that Conrad told him of his decision Thursday. Fischer named Col. Robert Schroeder to serve as interim chief after Conrad’s departure.

“It has been the highlight of my professional career to be Louisville’s police chief,” Conrad, a Louisville native, said in the release. “LMPD is full of amazing men and women who come to work each day to do their best for this community and it has been a privilege to lead them.”

Fischer did not ask Conrad to retire, said Jessie Halladay, a police department spokeswoman.

“You all are weathering a lot right now and I know how challenging this is,” Conrad said in an email to officers on Thursday. “Approach this as we approach all our struggles – as a team. Look out for each other. Show compassion to the community, even when it might not be shown to you.”

In recent weeks, Conrad has endured criticism for his department’s handling of the fatal March shooting of Taylor, a black former EMT and emergency room tech, who was killed in her home near Pleasure Ridge Park during a narcotics raid.

Nothing illegal was found in her apartment. Neither she nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was the target of the early-morning raid.

The target — drug suspect Jamarcus Glover — had been arrested miles away before police arrived at her apartment complex on Springfield Drive near the Southwest Family YMCA, attorneys say.

And a lingering dispute in the shooting is whether officers announced their presence before entering. The day before, Jefferson Circuit Judge Mary Shaw signed a detective’s request for a “no-knock” search warrant, allowing officers to enter without knocking.

Police say they did knock; attorneys for Walker and Taylor say they don’t believe police knocked and point to several neighbors who claimed they didn’t hear officers announce themselves or knock.

An investigation into the shooting was sent to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron this week. On Thursday, the FBI announced its own probe of the case.

National civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, said Conrad’s resignation is “a significant step forward in getting justice for Breonna Taylor, her family, and the city of Louisville.”

However, Crump considers Conrad’s impending retirement just an initial step in the march toward justice for Taylor.

“United for justice, our voice will always be heard,” he said in an interview with WDRB News. “This is really about justice for Breonna and justice for the City of Louisville, because if this can happen to Breonna, it can happen to your child.”

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