LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville officers describe chaotic May 17 crime-scene shootings and 'execution' of 1 victim


Moments before she was gunned down last May before a mass of onlookers and police in Louisville's West End, Makeba Lee cursed the crowd, telling them "payback's coming," according to recently released police interviews.

Lee had learned that her child's father had just been killed in a shootout at 32nd and Kentucky streets, less than a block from where she stood, and she was yelling at the crowd, even as a woman tried to cover her mouth and quiet her, Louisville Metro Police Officer Vadim Dale said in an interview with investigators hours after the May 17 shooting.

"I felt like it was her against the crowd," Dale said of Lee, adding that the woman trying to quiet her had a look like, "You don't wanna do that right here, right now."

Dale said he was moving toward the growing melee when he saw another woman, Cheetara Goldsmith, pull out a gun and shoot Lee, then stand over top of her as she fired several more times from point-blank range. Goldsmith is now charged with murder in Lee's shooting, which rocked the city because of the brazen violence in front of dozens of witnesses and officers.

"I noticed she looked as though she acknowledged that I was coming, but she just kept screaming and shooting," Dale said in his interview with Sgt. Pete McCartney of the Louisville Metro Police Public Integrity Unit, part of hundreds of pages of documents, pictures and audio interviews. "... Screaming obscenities at the victim on the ground. ... It looked like a flat-out execution to me."

Dale said he screamed for Goldsmith to drop the gun but she continued shooting, prompting him to fire one shot in an attempt to save Lee. Goldsmith ended up facing Dale, pointing her weapon toward him and he fired two more rounds, hitting her and causing her to drop the gun and fall to the ground, according to his interview.

The records filed Wednesday shed more light on the details of what happened on that chaotic day May 17, when shots rang out in the middle of a murder investigation, while dozens of police officers worked the case amid crowds of neighbors, family and media members pressing close.

In all, three people were shot to death and three others wounded, horrifying neighbors and leaving city officials vowing to curtail the mayhem.

Tyson Mimms, 24, the father of Lee's child, and Craig "C.J." Bland Jr., 22, died in the initial shootout. Lee, 24, of the 500 block of Breckinridge Street, died not long after at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds.

Goldsmith, being held in the Jefferson County jail on a $500,000 bond, has pleaded not guilty to murder and one count of first-degree wanton endangerment.

An officer at the scene said he heard people say Goldsmith was Bland's girlfriend.

"So I guess, you know, the boyfriends were quarreling, so then the girlfriends started quarreling as well," Officer Josh McKinley told investigators shortly after the shooting.

Two witnesses, who are not identified, said they saw the two people, Lee and her friend, make a comment to a group of six people, including Goldsmith, that Mimms would not have been killed if he "had not been with the other deceased individual," insinuating, the witnesses believe, that Mimms was a good person, while Bland was an "undesirable."

"This caused a violent reaction from the group of six individuals," according to a summary of the interviews. A boy in the group came forward and spit on Lee, according to the records.

Right after that, the shooting began, they said.

Alicia Smiley, a spokeswoman with the Louisville Metro Police Department, said police are still investigating the shootings of Mimms and Bland.

The violence began at 1:10 p.m., when 911 dispatchers got a call that there were three people shot at 32nd and Kentucky streets. Within moments, another call alerted them of a man shot at Elliott Avenue and 26th Street, according to MetroSafe Communications.

Police responding to 32nd Street found Mimms dead on the sidewalk and Bland on the front porch of a nearby home.

A witness to the Goldsmith shooting, Lamon Dawson, an Indiana resident, said he believed that Goldsmith was starting to run away when police shot her, but said the officers had justification to use deadly force.

Another witness, Marriesta Price, told investigators that Goldsmith started to flee after shooting Lee but "she couldn't, cause the minute she went to take off, it seemed like when she got hit the first time."

The two witnesses who spoke to police but did not want to be identified, said Goldsmith started to walk away but stopped when the officer told her to halt.

"The witnesses report that the girl did not drop the gun, instead turned toward the officer who then fired," according to the police summary. "... The witnesses reported that the officer had no choice and that he and other officers immediately secured her and proceeded to perform CPR on the deceased victim and also" treated Goldsmith.

Smiley said Dale, who had been on administrative duty, has returned to active duty. The shooting is still under internal investigation.

The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office reviewed the case and found no criminal wrongdoing by Dale.