Grievances abound in ex-Louisville cop's tell-all book on the Breonna Taylor shooting

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The list of people on Jonathan Mattingly's bad side is long.

The retired Louisville cop who was injured in the infamous Breonna Taylor raid lays out his grievances in a new book published Tuesday, going after everyone from local leaders like Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David James to big-name celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and LeBron James.

Mattingly, one of the three Louisville Metro Police officers who fired shots during the attempted search of Taylor's apartment in March 2020, published the book through DW Books, a division of conservative media organization, The Daily Wire.

The book, "12 Seconds In The Dark: A Police Officer’s Firsthand Account of the Breonna Taylor Raid," is Mattingly's telling of his 20-year police career, the night Taylor died and the fallout that followed.

"It's amazing that as long as the media and woke mob aren't hounding you, you have politicians' support," he wrote, "but as soon as the tide turns and it's not in their best interest, they disappear, never to be heard from again."

The now-retired sergeant fired six rounds that night, striking Taylor, who wasn't armed, at least once, after he was shot by her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Mattingly required emergency surgery to repair his severed femoral artery.

Walker has maintained he did not know it was police at the door, and criminal charges filed against him that night were later dismissed.

The book's release comes just two days after the second anniversary of Taylor's death and about two weeks after another officer from the shooting, Brett Hankison, was acquitted of endangering Taylor's neighbors.

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The book quickly charted on Amazon, cracking the Top 100 bestsellers in books.

"I will not be silent, and I will continue to fight," he wrote. "We were used as pawns in the mayor and city council's political careers. In the meantime, that game is destroying or at least forever altering people's lives."

LMPD acknowledged the book's publication said the department, "respectfully declines comment."

A spokesperson for Mayor Greg Fischer told The Courier Journal "The mayor has not read the book," when asked for a response to Mattingly's comments.

The Courier Journal obtained a copy of Mattingly's book Tuesday. Here are some key points:

'Could have given my statement right then'

For those hoping to find out more details about what unfolded just before 1 a.m. March 13, 2020, at Taylor's apartment, Mattingly's 141-page book offers little new information.

Of the 13 chapters, three are devoted to that fatal raid: one to the lead-up, one to the attempted search and one to the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Avid followers of the case will recognize much of what Mattingly writes from previously published interviews he gave to LMPD investigators and to ABC News and The Courier Journal.

Notably, Mattingly refused recently to testify as a witness in Hankison's trial, citing his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The FBI investigation into Taylor's death remains open and ongoing.

Mattingly wrote he was "amazed" at "how clear my recollection of the events from the incident were in my head."

"I wish I could have given my statement right then and there so all the naysayers couldn't accuse us of a cover-up and collusion like they have," he said. "I realize this isn't how everyone's body reacts to a traumatic injury like this, but mine did."

The Courier Journal reached out to attorneys for Taylor's family, but they declined to comment.

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Book 'perpetuates a lie' about Kenneth Walker

Mattingly placed the blame for Taylor's death — "a horrible tragedy, and the exact scenario that every cop fears" — squarely on her boyfriend, Walker.

It's not the first time he's done so.

"This tragedy is a culmination of events that led us to a raid on that apartment, along with the criminal actions of Kenneth Walker that night, but that distinction was lost, or rather, buried," Mattingly wrote.

Mattingly also expressed doubt that Walker didn't know who he was shooting at.

"There was no way at this point, a few minutes after the initial incident, that Kenneth Walker didn't know it was the police outside, yet he chose to stay inside the apartment for fifteen minutes before exiting, claiming he didn't know who we were," Mattingly wrote.

Frederick Moore and Steve Romines, attorneys for Walker in his civil suit against Mattingly and other officers, said the book "perpetuates a lie … that Kenny somehow knew who was breaking into Breonna's apartment that night."

"In fact, in an extremely emotional call as Breonna lay dying, Kenny actually called the authorities using 911 and expressed that 'someone' was bashing down the door," they said in a statement. "To blame Kenneth Walker for this tragedy is to deny a Black man the protection of the strong 'stand your ground' law in Kentucky."

Mattingly is suing Romines for defamation because the attorney called Taylor's death a "murder." He's also countersuing Walker, writing, "if the city and department weren't willing to stand up and fight for what's right, I would."

'Refused to set the record straight'

The person receiving the lion's share of Mattingly's ire is Louisville's third-term Democratic mayor, Fischer.

His criticisms of the mayor include that Fischer:

  • "Pandered to the Black community and Breonna Taylor's family;"

  • "Was negligent to the officers under his command;"

  • "Knew the truth in the case all along and refused to set the record straight."

On this last claim, James, the Metro Council president and former police officer, agrees.

Mattingly blasts James for not having a press conference to correct misinformation about Taylor's death before the protests began May 28, 2020.

James told The Courier Journal he wanted to, but Fischer wouldn't release the information he needed to do so.

"If the mayor had been a better leader," James said, "we wouldn't have been in the turmoil that we're in now."

Mattingly also hints at a potential candidacy for Congress, saying he may run for the seat being vacated U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Louisville Democrat.

Not a big fan of celebrities and media

As Mattingly and The Daily Wire have promoted the book, they've said it "debunks (the) media narrative" and calls out the "movie stars, athletes and performers (who) jumped on the bandwagon."

Ben Crump, a Florida-based attorney who has represented many families of Black Americans killed by police, including Taylor and George Floyd, "seems to sniff out the national stories that can make him a buck," Mattingly wrote.

Crump is high-profile and did play a significant role in bringing attention to Taylor's death, alerting celebrities, politicians and cable news personalities to the case as he spoke about another prominent death — Ahmaud Arbery.

Tamika Mallory — a co-founder of the activist group Until Freedom and dubbed the queen of the social justice movement by Crump — "was one of the main instigators that left Louisville in shambles," Mattingly wrote.

Until Freedom is "pot-stirrers and benefits financially in huge ways," he wrote. "They are, for all intents and purposes, for-profit protesters, and that profit comes from propagating lies and capitalizing on the tragic deaths of people of color."

Neither Until Freedom nor Ben Crump's public relations team returned a Courier Journal request for comment Tuesday.

Others Mattingly skewered include: Cardi B, Kim Kardashian, Amy Schumer, Ice Cube, Jennifer Lawrence, Jada Pinkett Smith and Michael Strahan.

Strahan conducted the on-camera interview with Mattingly for ABC News and The Courier Journal in October 2020. The documentary later released by the partnering news outlets won a Peabody Award.

Mattingly wrote that "every question was as much an accusation or assumption as it was a question.

"It was like three hours on the witness stand being cross-examined by a defense attorney," he wrote. "Strahan's mind was made up before the interview, and his facial expressions and body language showed that."

Mattingly was more forgiving of The Courier Journal, writing "these journalists gave me a fair shake on this interview."

'Unhealthy for both parties'

Mattingly also offers up many of his thoughts on crime, policing and reform throughout the book.

"Just when you think you've seen it all, there's a new revelation waiting for you," he wrote. "As a result, just as citizens easily become jaded toward the police and have a one-sided view, the police become jaded as well and have a one-sided view of society. It's unhealthy for both parties."

Officers, he said, would love to redirect some calls for service to other agencies that could help. (Louisville is exploring a deflection program that would do just that.)

"Police nationwide would love to simply enforce laws and protect their community," he wrote. "We hate being a jack-of-all-trades as well."

To the officers with "zero discernment" who hate their jobs or are scared of it, Mattingly says, "find a new one."

Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly is interviewed by Darcy Costello and Tessa Duvall of the Courier Journal. Mattingly was wounded during the botched drug raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment. Oct. 20, 2020
Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly is interviewed by Darcy Costello and Tessa Duvall of the Courier Journal. Mattingly was wounded during the botched drug raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment. Oct. 20, 2020

He also wrote that "today's police officer is the least corrupt that it's ever been in the history of our country" and that "sometimes officers need to lose their jobs or go to prison, but that's not a common ordeal."

"I want my story to make a difference," Mattingly wrote. "I want society to stop insisting on someone to blame for every crisis and tragedy.

"I don't want another Breonna Taylor or another John Mattingly."

Reach Tessa Duvall at and 502-582-4059. Twitter: @TessaDuvall.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Jonathan Mattingly uses tell-all Breonna Taylor book to air grievances