A Louisville Metro Police officer reportedly under investigation for firing pepper balls at a TV crew during Breonna Taylor protests last summer was nominated for a merit award for his handling of the protests, the Courier Journal reports. Dusten Dean and two other officers were to be considered for an Exceptional Merit Award for their work during the May protests, which is when a video of Dean firing nonlethal rounds at reporters went viral.
“I commend you for your exceptional work ethic, dedication and perseverance with actions that have made a significant contribution to the LMPD and improve the quality of life in the community,” reads a recognition letter from Robert Schroeder, who was the department's chief at the time. Kaitlin Rust, a member of the crew that was fired upon with pepper balls while they were trying to do their job and cover the protests, said she was disappointed to learn of the nomination. “I'm shocked and disheartened to hear he was commended for a job well done after he so publicly failed to protect us,” Rust was quoted saying by the Courier Journal. Beth Ruoff, an LMPD spokeswoman, said Dean did not win the award, and the recipient has not been announced to the public yet. Dean has been on administrative reassignment since last June pending an investigation.