More than two years after Breonna Taylor’s death, a federal investigation grinds on. Yet retired Louisville Metro Police Department Sgt. John Mattingly, one of the officers who served the arrest warrant that night in March 2020, says he and his fellow officers have been tried in the court of public opinion and convicted on the basis of perjury. The following is an excerpt from his new book, “12 Seconds In The Dark: A Police Officer’s Firsthand Account of the Breonna Taylor Raid,” available from The Daily Wire. See also my exclusive interview with Mattingly and my brief summary of portions of his book. No complete account of the evening can omit his story from the conversation. – BJ.
When the videos of George Floyd surfaced from Minneapolis, the entire country gasped. I remember getting calls and texts. My response was that this was bad, really bad. I remember every police officer I talked to about this disagreed with the way things were handled, at least with the limited information and edited videos we saw. Being right in the middle of a situation that was perpetuated based on lies and misinformation, I was careful not to play “Monday morning quarterback,” but even with that in mind, it was hard not to accept what I saw. I knew that was NOT our policy on how to maintain control. Even if it were a tactic to gain control, I’d hope one would have enough common sense to reposition someone who was not an active aggressor or resisting. …
The common denominator between both tragedies is Benjamin Crump. He seems to sniff out the national stories that can make him a buck, get some screen time, and gain him more notoriety. He gets on TV like a televangelist and piggybacks the tragedies these families are going through. Maybe his intentions are good, but telling the truth to go along with those intentions is something he’s allergic to, evidently. You can’t say you are fighting for justice while causing injustice to others along the way.
Now we had the Breonna Taylor tragedy sandwiched between two other divisive national news stories that involved black and white in which Crump is controlling the narrative and has free reins to the media. These other cases were caught on camera, and both appeared to be injustices. The perfect storm was brewing, not only for Louisville, Kentucky, but for America and across the world. We have media and social media platforms that thrive off of divisiveness and hate. Americans will devour their own for the sake of a like or share. Americans are now WOKE, and you better be on their side or they will seek to destroy you. Myself and my coworkers were now on that radar, and the mob was out to destroy us.
On May 28 the recording of Kenneth Walker calling 911 was released to the media. In that phone call, you hear a person crying out that someone broke in and shot his girlfriend. The emotions sound real and could pull at your heartstrings if you didn’t know the entire story and the context of the call. The money-seeking attorneys that released the call knew exactly what they were doing. If they manipulated the way the evidence was released, then they would win the case in the court of public opinion. When that happens, there is a better chance of an out-of-court settlement, which means no additional discovery and depositions, which would have shed light from the other side of the story.
There are just a few problems with the narrative that was attached to the phone call and story surrounding it. This 911 call was placed over six minutes after the fatal encounter with police. The lawyers and media set up the narrative to imply that, while we were banging on the door attempting to make entry, Kenneth Walker called 911, not knowing we were the police. The facts are that we knocked and announced for so long that he had time to get dressed, obtain his firearm, and take a position in the hallway waiting for us to enter. Once the door was breached, we continued to announce ourselves as the police—all before the encounter. None of this was mentioned each time the call was shared on the news and social media. It was deflating to watch and hear one side presented while gag orders had been placed on us officers.
Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. Let’s say Walker didn’t hear us announce and thought we were breaking into his home. Let’s say after he shot me, he still didn’t know we were the police. If that was indeed true, then why didn’t he call 911 during the minute the door was being banged on? Why didn’t he have his girlfriend hide while he addressed the perceived threat? Breonna had a phone in her hands when the tragedy happened, so why wasn’t she calling 911? Was she calling or texting someone else during the raid? That phone was locked and was never accessed to see its activity. Walker claims that, once fire was returned, after his “warning shot,” that he threw his gun under the bed in the sister’s room. Again, if he indeed did not know we were the police, then why in the world would he throw his only source of protection into another room? Walker claims he helped Breonna to the floor after she was tragically shot. Impossible. The bullet holes in the wall where he was originally standing would’ve struck him.
No. In reality, he shot his gun and dove to safety, leaving poor Breonna stranded in that narrow dark hallway. He waited over six minutes to call 911 and still claimed, implausibly, that he didn’t know who was outside. Within a few minutes of the shooting, many marked units were outside the apartment with lights and sirens. And who calls their mother before 911 if they think they’ve just been home-invaded, watched the love of their life murdered, and could still hear the people that did it outside their apartment? All the while he claimed to be holding Breonna with his door wide open. The position of her body in the hall makes the scene he’s described in his many interviews impossible. Lastly, who blames the love of their life as being the person who shot a cop so as to not incriminate himself? Who does that?? Logic and common sense combat all these lies that Kenneth Walker claimed.
There are recordings from jail just a few days after Kenneth lost the “love of his life.” He was so torn up about it all that he was trying to convince the girl on the other end to have phone sex with him. A few days later, he was recorded telling another girl that he loved her and was going to marry her. That doesn’t sound like a guy who was getting ready to propose to the love of his life. If so, he got over her pretty fast.
There are a lot of unanswered questions as to the phone calls made by Kenneth Walker before he surrendered. He was in that apartment for fifteen minutes after the initial incident. What was he doing that entire time? Was he flushing evidence? Was he staging his scene? Was he hiding an additional firearm, maybe the one he claimed Breonna shot? We’ve been accused of some outrageous claims, so I’d like to know the truth. He tells us, and phone records corroborate, that he called his mother, 911, and then Breonna’s mother before surrendering with no blood on his body or clothes. Does that sound like someone who held Breonna’s bloody body as she passed?
One very important interview that wasn’t discovered until the investigation was over was with LMPD Officer Donavis Duncan, conducted by the Public Integrity Unit in May of 2020. Officer Duncan lived in the same apartment complex as Breonna Taylor. He also went to middle and high school with Kenneth Walker and is a self-admitted friend. He knows Kenneth’s mother and came out of his apartment to the scene after the shooting. He stated that Kenneth Walker’s mother approached him on scene and said, “Kenneth called me and said they’re at the door.” She told Duncan that she replied, “Who’s at the door, baby?” She stated that Kenneth responded, “The police. I don’t know what they want.” She said, “Then he hung up.” I don’t know why this wasn’t a point of interest during the investigation or weighed in before dropping the charges on Walker since it clearly points to the fact that Kenneth Walker KNEW the police were at his door.
Minnesota had already begun to boil over from George Floyd’s death. The strategic timing in the release of the 911 call along with the manipulation of the events in the timeline caused Louisville to erupt. Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar, and Lonita Baker, all attorneys for Breonna Taylor’s family, were using the media as their mouthpiece to propagate their narrative and raise tension levels in the city.