In an exclusive interview with ABC News and the Louisville Courier-Journal, the police officer at the center of the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March insists the killing of the unarmed black woman was not about race.
Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was injured when he caught fire from Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker as he and two other officers attempted a no-knock drug raid at 1 a.m. said, “This is not us going, hunting somebody down. This is not kneeling on a neck. It’s nothing like that.” Taylor was shot six times in a hail of 32 bullets shot into the dark apartment.
“Because this is not relatable to George Floyd. This is nothing like that,” he said. “It’s not Ahmaud Arbery. It’s nothing like it. These are two totally different types of incidences. It’s not a race thing like people wanna try to make it to be. It’s not.”
Taylor, 26, and Walker were asleep in their apartment on March 13 when officers executed a “no-knock” search warrant as part of an investigation into Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, a suspected drug dealer who lived in a different part of town and had been arrested hours prior.
Her death prompted an FBI investigation and a wave of protests over spring and summer. Amid outrage over the lack of criminal charges, the city of Louisville last month reached a $12 million settlement in the Taylor family’s wrongful death lawsuit.
But Mattingly, who has been on administrative leave since the raid, blamed misinformation and the timing of the fatal shooting so close to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis for the backlash. He insisted that the only mistake he and his team made was in giving Taylor too much time to answer her door after repeated announcements of “Police, search warrant.”
Instead, he believes they should have stormed her door without knocking. Mattingly was shot in the thigh when Walker opened fire. Walker has insisted he did not know police were at the door and fired in self defense. Det. Myles Cosgrove has been subsequently identified as the officer who fired the bullets that killed Taylor.
“There’s a reason the police were there that night,” Mattingly said. “And if you’re law-abiding citizen, the only contact you’ll probably ever have with the police is running into them in Thorntons or if you get a speeding ticket. Other than that, unless you know them, you're not really dealing with the police.”
On Sept. 23, a grand jury indicted just one of the officers, former detective Brett Hankison, with three counts of wanton endangerment for blindly firing shots that hit or endangered people in other units. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Cosgrove and Mattingly’s use of force “was justified to protect themselves.”
During the Wednesday interview, Mattingly said that while Taylor’s name was not on the search warrant intended to find drugs tied to Glover, they didn’t anticipate Walker, her current boyfriend, to be at her home.
“We expected that Breonna was going to be there by herself. That’s why we gave her so much time. And in my opinion that was a mistake,” the 47-year-old officer told Good Morning America, insisting that there was no way Walker did not know they were law-enforcement officers when he opened fire because of the loud knock.
“Everybody knows the police knock,” Mattingly said. “When that took place for that long—and they had that much time to think and react and formulate a plan—I don’t know he didn’t hear us. We were talking 20 feet away through a thin metal door.”
He insists Taylor would be alive if they had stormed the door. “No. 1, we would have either served the no-knock warrant or we would have done the normal thing we do, which is five to 10 seconds. To not give people time to formulate a plan, not give people time to get their senses so they have an idea of what they're doing,” he said. “Because if that had happened... Breonna Taylor would be alive, 100 percent.”
Mattingly, who has not previously spoken publicly, said he felt empathy for Taylor’s family, but blamed her family’s lawyers, Ben Crump and Sam Aguiar, for inflaming the situation. Crump, a civil-rights lawyer, is also representing the interests of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
However, a day before the grand jury announced the charges against Hankison, Mattingly sent an extraordinary 2 a.m. email to 1,000 Louisville Metro Police officers, apologizing to his “LMPD family” for the scrutiny the department has faced since Taylor’s death. He slammed 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.
Stating that he believed his unit “did the legal, moral, and ethical thing that night,” Mattingly disparaged Black Lives Matter protesters and said local leaders had 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. “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.”
On Wednesday, Mattingly shifted the blame to Taylor’s family lawyers, calling Crump an “agitator.”
“I feel for her. I hurt for her mother and for her sisters,” Mattingly said. “It’s not just a passing ‘Oh, this is part of the job, we did it and move on.’ It’s not like that. I mean Breonna Taylor is now attached to me for the rest of my life.”