NBC News producer Kailani Koenig and correspondent Cal Perry were shot at with pepper balls while covering protests in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 30, 2020.
Protests in Louisville have centered around the deaths of Breonna Taylor, shot and killed inside her home by Louisville police in March, and the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25.
Perry told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that the news team and their security guard were reporting from a bus stop with plexiglass barriers in downtown Louisville shortly after 8:30 p.m. when police began to disperse the crowd. Both news crew members were wearing press passes, Perry said.
The news team took off running, Perry said, and when they made it around the corner and out of the way of the police advance, Koenig turned around and Perry noticed that her bag had been hit with pepper balls anywhere from six to 12 times.
In a tweet posted the following day, Koenig’s backpack can be seen with numerous residue marks where it was struck by the less-lethal pepper ball rounds.
Perry said that while Koenig’s bag had prevented her from being hit by any of the rounds, the security officer with them was struck in the center of his back with a rubber bullet, causing a large welt.
“There was no question: they were moving us along by firing the little pepper rounds and rubber bullets at us,” Perry said. The Tracker documented Perry’s assault here.
The Louisville Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.