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Louisville police shoot reporter with pepper bullets during protest on live TV

Hours after a CNN reporter was arrested while covering protests in Minneapolis, a crew from an NBC affiliate faced its own violent interaction with police in Louisville, Kentucky. While providing live coverage of the protests in Louisville, the city where Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in her own home, a WAVE 3 news reporter and her crew were directly shot with pepper bullets by police outfitted in riot gear. 

The incident happened while the crew from WAVE 3 was live on air, when reporter Kaitlin Rust was speaking about the dozens of officers in riot gear standing shoulder-to-shoulder near Louisville City Hall, according to CBS affiliate WIVB. As she spoke to the station's anchors, she can be heard yelling, "I've been shot!" repeatedly. The videographer captured an officer directly pointing the gun at their team. 

WAVE 3 published a story on the incident, saying that both Rust and photojournalist James Dobson appeared to have been shot by Louisville Metro Police. Both sustained minor injuries, the station said, but continued to cover the protests.

"When the officer fired at Ms. Rust and Mr. Dobson, the two had been following instructions, were standing behind the police line when they were fired upon, and were not disrupting or otherwise interfering with law enforcement," a statement from WAVE 3 News said. The statement said both Rust and Dobson were very visibly television professionals.

Rust was wearing a "bright yellow, reflective vest," and had a large field microphone, while Dobson had "an apparently very visible, professional-grade field television camera."

WAVE 3 News Statement on Police Shooting 05-29-20 by Shellie Sylvestri on Scribd

WAVE 3 News General Manager Ken Selvaggi condemned the incident. 

"We strongly condemn the actions of the LMPD officer who tonight repeatedly fired at and hit our reporter and cameraman, both of whom were courageously and lawfully covering breaking news in their community," they said. "There is simply no justification for the Louisville police to wantonly open fire, even with pepper balls, on any journalists under any circumstances."

LMPD spokesperson Jessie Halladay told the Courier-Journal that it is unclear if the officer who shot the pepper bullets were from the LMPD. She apologized for what happened, saying it's "not our intention to target or subject the media as they try to cover this." 

"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. It's a little difficult to determine, in the midst of all of this, who that officer is," Halladay said. "We will be taking a look at the video again after this situation is resolved, and if we need to do any investigation for discipline, we will do that."

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