Man charged with murder after opening fire at Breonna Taylor protest in Louisville

Andrew Naughtie
Louisville police block off the scene of the shooting at a protest over the death of Breonna Taylor: AP

Authorities in Louisville, Kentucky have arrested and charged a man for the murder of another protester at a demonstration in the city’s Jefferson Square Park on Saturday night.

Steven Lopez, who was taken to hospital after the incident, has been in police custody at University of Louisville Hospital since the incident, in which he fired several shots into a crowd of protesters – several of whom apparently returned fire.

One man, 27-year-old Tyler Gerth, was killed; another was injured. Mr Lopez was reportedly shot in the leg.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department’s Lamont Washington screened footage of the violence, and explained what had transpired since.

“The man who is believed to be the primary aggressor in this incident is currently in police custody at the hospital. We are confirming with the commonwealth attorney’s office on appropriate charges to be filed.

“This man had been participating in the protests since they began, and he had been arrested a couple of times over the past several weeks. He had been repeatedly asked by other members in the park to leave due to his disruptive behaviour.

“In addition to this man, multiple other people in the park were armed at the time of the incident, and our homicide investigators are still working to identify all the parties who may have fired during the incident.”

The protest at which the killing occurred was the latest in months of similar demonstrations sparked by the death of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot dead in her apartment by officers executing a so-called “no-knock” warrant.

The officers involved in her death were not immediately disciplined, but were fired after the public outcry began. One of them, Brett Hankinson, is now appealing against his firing, saying that the department was precipitous in firing him before the full facts of Ms Taylor’s death had been established.