As Louisville braces for a grand jury decision on the police killing of Breonna Taylor, one of the officers involved is standing by his actions in the botched raid, claiming subsequent unrest is the work of “thugs” who have created a “good versus evil” mentality.
In an email apparently sent to 1,000 Louisville Metro Police officers at 2 a.m. Tuesday, Jonathan Mattingly apologized to his “LMPD family” for the scrutiny the department has faced since Taylor’s death, slamming the department and the FBI—“who aren’t cops and would piss their pants if they had to hold the line”—for going after cops for civil rights violations.
The email, with a subject line of “URGENT PLEASE READ!!!” came after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron presented evidence to a grand jury to decide whether to indict Mattingly—along with Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove—for the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT worker.
“Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral, and ethical thing that night,” Mattingly said in the email first obtained by VICE. “It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.”
Kent Wicker, an attorney representing Mattingly, confirmed his client sent the email. “As you know, Sgt. Mattingly was shot and severely wounded while serving this warrant,” Wicker said. “Like our entire community, he is hopeful that this process moves forward quickly, and that his fellow officers and the people of Louisville remain safe.”
In anticipation of the grand jury’s decision, Louisville Metro Police Department’s interim chief Robert Schroeder on Monday announced a “state of emergency” and canceled all off-day and vacation requests. Mayor Greg Fisher also declared a state of emergency Tuesday “due to the potential civil unrest.”
“Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement,” Fisher said in a statement.
Several streets, parking garages, some local businesses and the federal courthouse have closed, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday he was prepared to deploy the National Guard to quell any fallout.
Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenny Walker, were asleep in their apartment on March 13 when officers executed a “no-knock” search warrant as part of an investigation into a suspected drug dealer who lived in a different part of town and had already been arrested.
Taylor’s death prompted an FBI investigation and a wave of protests. Amid ongoing outrage over the lack of criminal charges, the city of Louisville last week reached a $12 million settlement in the Taylor family’s wrongful death lawsuit.
But Mattingly, who has been on administrative leave since the raid, said in his 2 a.m. email that the months of protests only proved that local leaders—including the mayor and former police chief—failed law enforcement “in epic proportions for their own gain and to cover their asses.”
“You DO NOT DESERVE to be in this position,” Mattingly wrote to his colleagues, referring to protests and calls for police reform. “The position that allows thugs to get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you. Throw bricks, bottles, and urine on you and expect you to do nothing. It goes against EVERYTHING we were all taught in the academy.”
Stating that he was still proud to be a cop “no matter the ineptitude in upper commend or the mayors office,” Mattingly said “the next few days are going to be tough” and encouraged his colleagues to de-escalate tensions so as not to give “the pencil pushers at the top, you know the ones who are too scared to hold the line, a reason to open investigations on you.”
“I wish I were there with you leading the charge,” he said, before urging his colleagues to “keep your focus.” “I’ll be praying for your safety. Remember you are just a pawn in the Mayors political game. I’m proof they do not care about you or your family, and that you are replaceable.”
“Now go be the Warriors you are, but please be safe! None of these ‘peaceful’ protesters are worth your career or freedom. God speed boys and girls,” he concluded.
The Louisville Police Department did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment on the email. When Schroeder was asked about the email on Tuesday, he told reporters, “It’s simply too premature at this time to talk about.”
Authorities claimed that, despite being granted a “no-knock” warrant, officers knocked on the door and announced their presence during the March 13 raid. The lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family, however, alleged that the plainclothes officers didn’t knock or announce themselves. Walker, who believed the apartment was being burglarized, fired a warning shot, which hit Mattingly in the thigh and prompted the officers to return fire with at least a dozen shots.
According to the lawsuit, no first aid was given to Taylor and she “lived for another five to six minutes” after the shooting before dying on the floor of her home. Meanwhile, officers across town had already located Jamarcus Glover, the subject of their drug investigation.
A month after the shooting, Hankison was fired for his conduct in the raid. He showed an “extreme indifference to the value of human life” by “blindly” firing 10 rounds into Taylor’s home, a termination letter said.
Mattingly, Cosgrove, and the detective who requested the warrant were put on leave. Six more officers are reportedly under investigation for their role in the raid.
In his Tuesday email to colleagues, Mattingly expressed outrage about the extra level of scrutiny officers were now under.
“The position that if you make a mistake during one of the most stressful times in your career, the department and the FBI (who aren’t cops and would piss their pants if they had to hold the line) go after you for civil rights violations,” he said. “Your civil rights mean nothing, but the criminal has total autonomy.”
He said all cops know the risks associated with the job but “we always assumed the city had our back.”
“We wanted to do the right thing in the midst of an evil world to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” he said, while claiming that officers don’t care about race. “This is not us against society, but it is good versus evil.”