A Kentucky police officer was filmed calmly squeezing off pepper pellets at a TV news reporter in the middle of a live broadcast on protests in downtown Louisville Friday night over recent killings during police actions there and in Minneapolis.
Reporter Kaitlin Rust’s camera operator filmed the officer aiming straight at both of them during a report on WAVE 3 News. Rust began screaming: “I’m getting shot! Rubber bullets! Rubber bullets!”
“Katie, are you OK?” asked the news anchor back at the station.
“It’s OK, it’s OK. It’s those pepper bullets,” Rust responded. Pepper balls contain chemicals similar to pepper spray and are shot in pellets. She was apparently struck during the broadcast, according to the news station.
Asked who the police were aiming at, Rust responded: “At us! Directly at us!” — though she had no idea why.
Though hundreds of protesters were gathered nearby, Rust and the camera operator were in a clearing, and there didn’t appear to be any problems in the immediate area. Rust had told the news anchors that she had followed police directions about where to stand.
A police spokesperson initially confirmed that Rust had likely been struck by pepper balls because the department doesn’t use rubber bullets, WAVE 3 reported. Louisville police spokesperson Jessie Halladay later apologized over the incident, telling the Courier Journal it was “not something that should have occurred if she was singled out as a reporter.”
Police would review the video and investigate if needed, Halladay added.
Early Friday in Minneapolis, Minnesota State Patrol officers arrested CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, his producer and two members of his crew while they were broadcasting live from protests there over the death Monday of George Floyd, a Black man who stopped breathing as a white police officer knelt on his neck.
Cameras kept rolling as Jimenez was placed in handcuffs and taken away after politely telling officers the crew would go wherever they instructed. The crew was released about two hours later.
Louisville has been wracked by protests over the deaths of Floyd and of Breonna Taylor, a black EMT in Louisville. Taylor was fatally shot in her home by plainclothes police who were executing a “no-knock” search warrant in a drug case March 13. The man they were seeking reportedly didn’t live in the building and was already in custody.
Seven people were shot and two were hospitalized at protests Thursday night in Louisville, WAVE News reported. Protests appeared to be growing violent late Friday.
Earlier in the day, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced no-knock warrants would be suspended.