A former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer is nominated for the Exceptional Merit Award despite his reprimand for firing his weapon on two reporters covering a Black Lives Matter protest.
On May 29, WAVE 3 reporter Kaitlin Rust and photographer James Dobson were covering the protests in honor of Breonna Taylor. Then came along then-officer Dusten Dean who shot his pepper balls at them during a live reporting, The Hill reported.
“I’ve been shot!” Rust yelled. The accident was caught on camera by Dobson.
Rust was wearing a yellow reflective safety vest while holding a microphone, and if it was not obvious, her cameraman wore a press jacket.
This just happened on live tv. Wow, what a douche bag. pic.twitter.com/dQKheEcCvb
— Christopher Bishop (@ChrisBishopL1C4) May 30, 2020
This is our crew shot at with pepper bullets by an LMPD officer during Louisville rioting. Photojournalist James Dobson and reporter Kaitlin Rust. A little bruised but doing well. pic.twitter.com/imKruDdcHU
— Dan Fabrizio (@DanFabrizio3) May 30, 2020
Dean was placed on leave pending an investigation, specifically under federal investigation, but he was still eligible for the police officer award, the Independent reported.
Dean’s nomination is for response to the anti-racism protests, essentially, he is being rewarded for firing at two innocent bystanders.
“I’m shocked and disheartened to hear he was commended for a job well done after he so publicly failed to protect us,” Rust said.
Her disappointment was not shared with the police department’s lieutenant who believes Dean is a hard worker.
“[Our officers] devoted extra time away from their families while operating on very little sleep, and working in high temperatures, so the Special Response Team, the Louisville Metro Police Department and the City of Louisville as a whole could succeed,” Lieutenant Chris Aebersold wrote in a statement to USA Today.
Aebersold also stated that Dean and fellow officers were about to confiscate “critical items” to the Special Response Team which, “stop destructive subjects from causing more damage and destruction in the city.”
Protesters were demonstrating for Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, who was shot and killed by police inside the home she and her boyfriend shared during a “no-knock” warrant that went wrong.