In his first interview since barging into the home of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in March, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly of the Louisville Metro Police Department said he would certainly do things differently if he were able to redo that night.
He would have entered Taylor’s home sooner.
“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 cop told Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan in a two-hour-long interview.
Mattingly’s reasoning was that, had police entered her apartment faster, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun-owner, wouldn’t have had time to grab his weapon.
“Number one, 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,” Mattingly told Strahan. “Because if that had happened...Breonna Taylor would be alive, 100 percent.”
The comments cast blame for Taylor’s death on Walker, suggesting that had Walker not had time to grab his weapon, police would have been able to execute the “no-knock” search warrant without incident. This stance is consistent with that of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the special prosecutor in charge of investigating Taylor’s March 13 killing. Cameron concluded that because Walker had fired at LMPD officers once they forcibly entered Taylor’s apartment, their subsequent response—a hailstorm of 32 bullets that killed Taylor in her bedroom hallway—was justified.
According to Mattingly, he didn’t know Taylor had died until he was released from surgery.
“My first question was, ‘Did she have a gun? Was she a shooter?’ Because I didn’t know what took place after I moved out,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly also confirmed that police knew that the target of their drug investigation, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, was at a separate location that night. The sergeant, a lifelong resident of Louisville, said the seven officers present at Taylor’s home announced their presence multiple times, including while they were taking a battering ram to her door.
Strahan pushed back, noting that Walker said he didn’t hear police announce themselves. According to Walker, he and Taylor repeatedly asked who was at the door without hearing a response. Strahan added that 11 of Taylor’s neighbors also didn’t hear police announce themselves.
Mattingly countered that those neighbors hadn’t heard the knocks that Walker and Taylor heard either.
“If you didn’t hear us knock, you’re not going to hear us announce,” he said.
The officer, who says he is confident he and his colleagues did everything appropriately the night of Taylor’s killing, said it was wrong of the public to compare Taylor’s death with those of George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May, and Ahmaud Arbery, killed by two white men who suspected him of robbing a construction site in April.
“It’s not a race thing like people want to try to make it out to be. It’s not. This is a point where we were doing our job, we gave too much time when we go in, I get shot, we returned fire,” Mattingly said. “This is not us going, hunting somebody down. This is not kneeling on a neck. It’s nothing like that.”
While Mattingly said he thought charging Minneapolis police officers for killing Floyd was the right thing to do, he also attributed the 46-year-old’s death to a “drug overdose” and suggested that he wasn’t worth the months of protests that followed, saying Floyd was “not a model citizen.”
A visibly frustrated Strahan took a pause before responding, “It’s very hard for me to sit here hearing ‘George Floyd died of an overdose.’” He said. “He died because someone was kneeling on his neck for minutes. In regards to him being a model citizen or not, he didn’t deserve that. No one deserves that.”
“Nobody said he did. I just demonized it. I said it’s horrible,” Mattingly replied.
Since Floyd’s death, cities across the United States carried out weeks—and in some cases months—of protests, including in Louisville, where activists demanded that the officers involved in shooting Taylor be held accountable. Her death had special resonance for many: While fewer women are killed by police each year than men are, Black women, like Black men, are more likely to be victims of this violence than non-Black people. Their cases also typically receive less attention than those of Black men.
Only one officer, Det. Brett Hankison was fired for his role in the police shooting. He was also the only cop to face any charges for his actions that night, currently facing three counts of “wanton endangerment” for shots he recklessly fired outside of Taylor’s apartment. Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, the officer responsible for firing the bullet that killed Taylor, both remain on the LMPD force and have faced no charges related to the fatal raid.
“I feel for her. I hurt for her mother and for her sisters,” said Mattingly. “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. And that’s not, again, ‘Woe is me.’ That’s me, feeling for them.”
Mattingly was also quick to point out how much he and his family have suffered in the aftermath of the case.
“I’m not going to sit here and act like, playing the big victim card. But I mean, I was a victim in this as well,” he said, adding that this family has had to “go into hiding” and faced death threats in the wake of Taylor’s killing.
“When someone sits back in their mansion and accuses someone they don’t know of being a racist, of being a dirty cop, of being a murderer when that’s not the case, it does affect you.”