Billed as a book that would debunk “lie after lie,” ex-LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly’s book about the police raid that killed Breonna Taylor was released on Tuesday, two days after the anniversary of her death.
Published by the new publishing arm of the conservative website The Daily Wire, Mattingly’s account largely takes aim at enemies near and far who he claims pushed a false narrative of what happened that night — which, in his eyes, stoked anger towards police in Louisville and across the country.
Lawyers for Taylor’s family and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who fired a shot that hit Mattingly in the leg as the door to Taylor’s apartment was breached on March 13, 2020, have disputed Mattingly’s version of what happened during the raid.
Mattingly was one of three officers to fire his weapon during the raid on Taylor’s apartment. He is the only officer to discharge his weapon that night who was not fired from LMPD.
LEO obtained a copy of “12 Seconds In the Dark: A Police Officer’s Firsthand Account of the Breonna Taylor Raid” when it came out on Tuesday. Here’s what we found.
Some of what Mattingly wrote in the book conflicted with what he had previously said as well as what other officers have said about the raid.
Mattingly writes that once the door was breached, he could see two figures inside the apartment “lit up by the ambient light” of a bedroom television as well as by police flashlights. While he writes that he could not identify the figures as black or white or male or female, the taller figure was standing in a pistol shooting stance. Mattingly wrote that his eyes “fixated on the barrel of the 9mm semi-auto handgun that the man I now know was Kenneth Walker had outstretched.”
The description of Walker given by Mattingly in the book ran against what former LMPD officer Brett Hankison repeatedly mimicked in court during his wanton endangerment trial earlier this month, which was a rifle shooting stance. Hankison testified he believed that he observed a person with a rifle in Taylor’s apartment and that gunfire he was hearing was from a person with a rifle executing his fellow officers. Hankison was found not guilty of all three wanton endangerment charges he faced over shots fired during the raid that went into a neighboring apartment. No rifle was found on the scene.
Mattingly also claimed that Public Integrity Unit officers who searched Taylor’s apartment after the shooting were only looking for evidence related to the shooting and not drugs, money or other contraband. This was a line of defense that was also used in the Hankison trial. However, during the trial, Sgt. Jason Vance, who was with the Public Integrity Unit at the time of the raid, said the scope of the unit’s search was “limitless” and turned up no drugs or guns. Additionally, he said that items they found that were potentially relevant to the criminal investigation that brought officers to Taylor’s apartment that night — like mail matter bearing the name of Jamarcus Glover, the main target of the investigation — was collected by investigators.
In describing the raid, Mattingly writes that Hankison fired his weapon in response to the sound of gunshots being fired by Myles Cosgrove. Hankison, who after the door was breached ran around the corner and fired 10 shots through a sliding-glass door and window, said he believed his fellow officers were being executed.
“During this brief, yet chaotic moment, it’s logical for Brett to have come to that conclusion,” Mattingly writes.
As for differing accounts from officers who were on scene that night, Mattingly likens it to “the Gospels in the Bible — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They all tell the same story but from different viewpoints, experiences and perspectives.”
While Mattingly spent chapters of his book talking about the raid, what lead up to it and its aftermath, he used his Fifth Amendment privilege to escape testifying at Hankison’s trial.
Throughout the book, Mattingly blames Taylor’s death on her boyfriend Walker and says Walker knew police were at the apartment. Walker and his attorneys have maintained that he did not know police were at the apartment and that he thought he was witnessing a home invasion.
‘SIMPLY A WHITE GUY IN A WOKE WORLD’
At many points, the book veered far from the March 13 raid to provide a litany of right-wing talking points, themes and buzzwords that appear to be on brand for Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro’s style of made-for-the-internet conservatism.
At one point, Mattingly writes about the difficulties he was having finding a Louisville lawyer who would represent him after the shooting, ultimately concluding that his race and profession were hinderances.
“It did start to open my eyes to things. Suddenly, the privileges afforded to some were not being afforded to others due to race and profession,” he wrote. “So, I guess Oprah was wrong. My whiteness didn’t give me that unfair advantage or even a fair playing field. I’m simply a white guy in a WOKE world.”
At the end of the book, he writes that society has turned everybody into a victim and that he wants society to stop insisting that someone is to blame for every tragedy.
“Society today has made everyone feel like a victim,” he writes. “It’s an easy trap to fall into, because people feel sorry for the victim. This entire book I’ve told you I was a victim, so you probably think I’m contradicting myself. The difference is in the facts. I was in fact shot. I did have to sell my house and go into hiding. I did have confirmed threats on my life. I was painted in an awful light by many. The caveat is I don’t want your sympathy. I want my story to make a difference.”
There were other examples of right-wing talking points and buzz words as well:
-About how back when police were given a “loose leash” to do their jobs properly he was part of a unit made up of “highly driven alpha males.”
-About how he believes Kenneth Walker “saw that the city was handing out money like the federal government is stimulus checks” and decided to sue.
-About how a “Three Percenters militia group” arrived in Louisville during the protests “to support the police and protect the city if necessary.”
-About how anger over past racism and slavery in the United States by those who never experienced it is “like a cancer to society.”
-About how schools “should not be the ones indoctrinating our children.”
His views are ones he might want to espouse in Congress, with Mattingly in the book saying he might run for Louisville Democrat John Yarmuth’s vacant seat next year. Mattingly previously hinted that he might run in tweets last year.
Throughout his book, Mattingly devotes a lot of effort into pushing back against celebrities and sports figures who called Breonna’s killing a murder or called for action against the cops involved in her killing, who he says were taking part in “influence-based bullying” and perpetuating false narratives about the raid.
“Oprah is just one example of hundreds: LeBron James, Cardi B., George Clooney, Beyonce, Common, Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys, Demi Lovato, Ellen DeGeneres, Amy Schumer, Ice Cube, Diddy, Kamala Harris, and the list goes on,” he writes.
His fandom for local celebrities also ended as a result of the backlash.
He wrote that he used to cheer for Louisville-born actress Jennifer Lawrence until she jumped “on the murder bandwagon of white guilt” by calling for action against the officers in Taylor’s raid. He said he also used to rearrange his schedule to attend UofL basketball and football games up until UofL basketball players marched for Taylor.
PLOTS, RUMORS AND THEORIES
Frequently in his book, Mattingly made accusations based off of rumor and theory, couching them with statements like, “I don’t know if that’s true” and “I’m not accusing anyone of wrongdoing.”
Among the accusations was that Louisville’s chief of public safety in 2020, Amy Hess — who had previously been the highest ranking woman in the FBI — had used her FBI ties to get the FBI to shut down an investigation into an alleged murder-for-hire scheme targeting Mattingly amid anger over Taylor’s death. He added that he’d been told by a source that Hess was “a BLM [Black Lives Matter] sympathizer and a liberal (like our mayor)” and that she “mysteriously stepped down” after he made a statement about his theory of her involvement.
As with other theories he posited, Mattingly was careful to also include language that hedged on his theory about the FBI.
“My theory about the FBI murder-for-hire investigation may not be true, but it feels that way to me,” he writes. “I have no hard evidence, but my gut tells me it’s true. None of that makes it a reality until it is actually proven to be real. My feelings don’t matter if the facts don’t back them up.”
In an email to LEO, Hess said: “After being briefed on the alleged murder-for-hire plot in the Summer of 2020 and recognizing the potential conflict of interest for the LMPD, I recommended the FBI or another law enforcement agency look into the matter and assess the credibility of the information. I have absolutely no doubt the resulting investigation — which did not substantiate the allegations — was conducted objectively, thoroughly, and independently.”
She referred LEO to her LinkedIn page for her current employment information, which listed her as a consultant to Louisville Metro Government.
In a statement to LEO, Katie Anderson, a spokesperson with the FBI’s Louisville field office, said,“In the summer of 2020, the FBI received information regarding threats being made to a number of individuals related to the Breonna Taylor investigation. The FBI thoroughly investigated all credible claims, including two instances in which Mr. Mattingly was identified as a potential victim. Neither investigation produced sufficient evidence to charge the alleged source of the threat against Mr. Mattingly with a federal offense. The FBI was in constant communication with LMPD regarding these, and other, threats.”
In a text message statement to LEO, Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Breonna Taylor’s family and a frequent target of criticism in the book, said he had read the book.
“It didn’t add details to fill in the holes about what truly happened at Breonna’s,” he said. “It does defeat their narrative that this was just some hodgepodge crew. These are all close friends that are protecting each other.”
In the book, Mattingly wrote that he was friends with four of the officers carrying out the raid.
Aguiar also saw discrepancies between Mattingly’s initial statement to investigators and what is written in the book as an attempt to get on the same page as other officers. For instance, in the book, Mattingly described knocking and announcing simultaneously while in his statement to investigators he said they initially knocked without announcing.
“He’s now simply adopted versions given by other officers and that’s disappointing. He’s protecting them,” he said.
In a statement to LEO, Walker’s lawyers Steven Romines and Frederick Moore said the book added to Walker’s distress, would “further divide” Louisville and “perpetuates a lie” that Walker knew who was entering Taylor’s apartment that night.
“To blame Kenneth Walker for this tragedy is to deny a Black man the protection of the strong “stand your ground” law that is supposed to apply to all Kentuckians,” they said.
Contacted by LEO, an LMPD spokesperson said, “LMPD is aware of the book release. At this time, LMPD respectfully declines comment.”
In an email, Jessica Wethington, a spokesperson for the mayor, responded to inquiries by saying, “The Mayor has not read the book.”
This story has been updated.