(JTA) — The former Louisville police officer who was connected to the controversy over the 2020 killings of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee has resigned from his new position as security advisor for the Jewish Community of Louisville after backlash from the wider Louisville community and concerned members of the Jewish community.
Josh Judah, a former lieutenant colonel with the Louisville Metro Police Department, had been hired in July as a regional security advisor by JCL — the umbrella group that includes Louisville’s Jewish Community Center and Jewish Federation — for its SAFE Louisville Initiative. The role involves running security operations for Jewish institutions and organizations across Kentucky, supervising community safety trainings and responding to antisemitic threats and incidents.
In an email to community members on Thursday, JCL CEO and President Sara Wagner wrote: “We had hoped to continue to engage in constructive dialogue about the new role Josh began in support of safety and security for the Jewish community and beyond. Unfortunately, current circumstances make it impossible for Josh to meet this goal. Recognizing this, Josh has tendered his resignation as Regional Security Advisor for SAFE Louisville.”
Judah arrived at Breonna Taylor’s apartment in March of 2020 at least an hour after other officers carried out a no-knock search warrant and shot Taylor six times. He reportedly confirmed another officer’s false claims that Taylor was armed with a rifle and fired at police. Four current and former Louisville police, not including Judah, face federal civil rights and unlawful conspiracy charges in her death.
In June 2020, during the nationwide protests against anti-Black police violence, Judah dispatched police and the National Guard to a popular restaurant in Louisville to disperse a crowd that had gathered in violation of the local 9:00 p.m. curfew. Police fired pepper balls into the crowd, and in response, David McAtee, the Black restaurant owner, fired two shots. McAtee was then shot in the chest and killed by a member of the National Guard.
McAtee’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Guard members and police officers involved, including Judah, and the civil case will go to trial in April 2023.
Judah’s hire was immediately met with widespread condemnation and a petition by Jewish community members to remove him from the position. The petition stated that the hire could “threaten the safety and comfort” of Jews of color and create a rift between the Black and Jewish communities.
Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, an organization that advocates for civil rights for Black Americans, also publicly criticized the hire.
“Not sure how this ends but thanks to the Rabbis and leaders who have reached out to say they disagree with JCL & hire does not reflect them or Jewish tradition,” Reynolds tweeted on Thursday.
In the email to the community, Wagner said, “we are committed to incorporating feedback that represents the diversity of the Jewish community and our partners and neighbors across Louisville, with a primary focus on the safety, security, and resiliency of the Jewish community – and with a hope that our efforts can benefit other communities with comparable and shared issues relative to hate crimes and targeted violence.”
A representative from JCL could not be reached for comment by press time.
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Josh Judah was at the scene of the killings of both Breonna Taylor and David McAtee. Judah is believed to have arrived after Taylor was shot; he later reportedly confirmed another officer’s false claims that Taylor was on the floor and armed with a rifle. In the case of McAtee’s killing, Judah reportedly dispatched police and the National Guard involved in the incident but was not at the scene.