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Officer in Breonna Taylor shooting says it had 'nothing to do with race'

Officer in Breonna Taylor shooting says it had 'nothing to do with race'
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A former Louisville, Ky., police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor said that the incident was a tragedy but had “nothing to do with race.”

Jon Mattingly spoke to the Louisville Courier Journal and ABC News in his first interview describing the events on March 13.

"This had nothing to do with race," he said. "Nothing at all."

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The 44-year-old former officer said Taylor’s case was not similar to those of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck, and Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man chased and fatally shot while jogging in Georgia. Floyd’s case, he said, arose out of misconduct and the abuse of power. 

“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.”

Mattingly said Taylor “didn’t deserve to die” and “didn’t do anything to deserve a death sentence.” But he added police did not go to her apartment by “happenstance.”

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"There's a reason the police were there that night," he said. "And if you're law-abiding citizen, the only contact you'll probably ever have with the police is running into them in [a convenience store] or if you get a speeding ticket. Other than that, unless you know them, you're not really dealing with the police.”

On the night of March 13, three officers executed a no-knock warrant at Taylor’s apartment as part of a narcotics investigation involving her ex-boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has said he thought the police were intruders, leading him to shoot at them, striking Mattingly in the left thigh. The officers responded with 32 shots into the apartment, six of which hit Taylor and killed her.

None of the officers were charged directly with Taylor’s death, but Detective Brett Hankison faces three counts of wanton endangerment for shots that went into a neighboring apartment. 

In his interview, Mattingly criticized city and police leadership, including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D), for not moving quickly enough to correct “false narratives” spreading about Taylor’s death, including that police went to the wrong apartment and that she was asleep in bed when shot. 

He said the misinformation helped spark the anger and frustration associated with the racial justice protests in Louisville that have continued for 146 days.

“There’s a reason that the fire wasn’t put out early, that [Fischer] let it simmer until it got to where it was at, and then it got out of control, and I don’t think he knew how to reel it back in,” Mattingly said.

Fischer said in a statement obtained by the Journal that he appreciates and respects “the difficult and often dangerous job that our police officers do.”

“My focus from the start of the Breonna Taylor case has been to get to the truth — for Breonna, her family and our larger community, which obviously includes the men and women of LMPD,” he said. “That requires letting the legal process play out, no matter how challenging it may be. In the meantime, we will continue to move forward and take steps toward healing, reform and progress."