Two years ago this week, Breonna Taylor lost her life as police served a narcotics warrant on the apartment where she was staying with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. While the nation has spent two years saying her name, it has turned a blind eye to Louisville Police Sergeant John Mattingly, who nearly lost his life to a gunshot from Walker’s 9-millimeter handgun. Sgt. Mattingly says he and Taylor were both victimized by Walker in his new book “12 Seconds In The Dark,” which The Daily Wire released this week. Mattingly exposes how his own heart broke for Taylor; how “grimy” attorneys and activists lied about the police’s actions that night, and how a compliant legacy media repeated those lies. Mattingly reveals he and his family have had to flee their home repeatedly while plagued by the fear of death threats which has yet to abate two years later. Perhaps most jarringly, until now, the Mattingly family’s peril has been rendered invisible by an ideologically driven media more interested in advancing a political agenda than helping victims of injustice.
Wounded by lies
The narrative around Breonna Taylor’s shooting claimed that plain-clothes police officers armed with a “no-knock” warrant busted into the apartment in the dead of night; that Breonna Taylor’s name was not on their warrant; that the officers never considered announcing themselves before barging in and gunning down Taylor in her sleep; that the cops killed an innocent person with negligence or malice; and that they dodged any serious legal consequences.
Many erroneous tropes emanated from Benjamin Crump, “Walker’s grimy defense attorney,” whom Mattingly says chases money and notoriety for his own gain. A separate allegation surfaced from a U.S. postal inspector, who claimed no suspicious packages had been delivered to Taylor’s address. Mattingly delves into the bureaucratic feud between police and USPS investigators that makes up part of the backstory before relying on his years in law enforcement to dispute the charge. “[M]ost illegal packages are not sent in the intended receiver’s name. For instance, if I wanted something illegal sent to me, I would have the package sent to a fictitious name and to an address that didn’t belong to me,” Mattingly explains. “This gives the receiver of the parcel plausible deniability, and if a search query for a suspect’s name is run for parcels, it’s not red-flagged because it’s not in their name.” Mattingly’s mixture of expertise and experience pervades every page of this page-turner.
For instance, Mattingly contests the most prevalent charge — that police served a “no-knock” warrant — by saying that he providentially snapped a picture of the officers’ pre-raid instructions. “Later that picture was used to show that the warrant had been changed to a ‘knock and announce’ warrant unlike the narrative that the attorneys and media have pushed,” Mattingly remembers. “We were asked to give Taylor more time than normal to answer the door.” (Emphasis in original.)
While the police did not wear their uniforms, Mattingly notes, “We were all wearing black tactical vests that were issued by our department for this purpose with ‘POLICE’ clearly stated on the front and back of our vests.” Those who have seen reporters in war-torn Ukraine wearing vests emblazoned with the word “MEDIA” may get a sense of how clear the lettering was. Yet legacy and social media outlets reported on the officers “as if we were breaking into this apartment in plain clothes to avoid being identified as police.”
Mattingly says his men knocked in loud bursts, five separate times, each time clearly announcing they were “police” before entering the apartment — something he claims gave Kenneth Walker time to prepare his assault. “By this time, we had been knocking and announcing for forty-five seconds to a minute,” he writes. “This seems like an eternity when you are on the other side of an unknown threat.”
Mattingly’s description of what happens as he entered the apartment varies greatly from the story told by the media. He indelibly remembers seeing two people in the dimly lit hallway:
The two figures were standing side by side at the end of the hallway, so close to each other that they could have been one, but I could see that one of the individuals was considerably taller than the other. That was the only defining difference in that millisecond. I couldn’t tell if they were black or white, male or female. The taller figure, on the right, was stretched out in an ‘Isosceles Stance’—feet shoulder-width apart and both arms ex- tended. My eyes fixated on the barrel of the 9mm semi-auto handgun that the man I now know was Kenneth Walker had outstretched. By the time my mind registered it was a gun, I saw the flash, heard the bang, and felt the smash to my thigh simultaneously. The bullet had ripped through the wallet in my front pocket and penetrated my thigh. It was like a piercing hot rod going through my leg.
He crawled back out of the apartment, blood gushing out of his wounded artery, and eventually received medical treatment. As his lieutenant tightened the tourniquet around his leg “so hard I thought I saw Jesus,” he writes, “I could hear the sirens and commotion in the background as officers were attempting to set up a perimeter and call the occupants of the apartment out. There’s 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.”
For someone who nearly lost his physical life, and whose family’s lives now exist under a constant threat of violence, Mattingly shows remarkable respect for Taylor. “Breonna DID NOT deserve to die on March 13, 2020. Therefore, I have no problem with people saying her name,” he writes. He says that he simply wants those who mourn Taylor’s death to understand the ways her boyfriend imperiled her:
As I lay in the hospital bed thinking about the events that had taken place, I remember telling my wife I wish I could ask Kenneth Walker some questions. I would ask him why Breonna was standing right there next to him. Why so close? Why put her in harm’s way if you truly thought we were intruders? Why leave her in the hallway while you jumped to safety after you fired the shot that hit me? The WHY is what has plagued my mind. None of it made sense in that moment, and none of it makes sense now.
No one had to die that night. No one had to get injured. We went above and beyond to get someone, anyone, to answer that door. We went against our training and logic and gave those inside the opportunity to formulate a plan, believing our job is to preserve life, not take it. … Police are not in the business of murder.
Mattingly wants Breonna Taylor remembered, but he wants her mourners to know that “Breonna’s tragedy is NOT one of racist police violence.”
As he pondered Taylor’s unjust death and his own life-altering suffering, the mayor and one of the city’s assistant police chiefs visited a severely wounded Mattingly in his hospital room. The sergeant says the contrast between this respectful visit and their later silence or acquiescence to the social justice warriors taught him a lesson: “As long as the media and woke mob aren’t hounding you, you have politicians’ support, but as soon as the tide turns and it’s not in their best interest, they disappear never to be heard from again.” The full force of the cancel culture would soon set itself against him.
Canceled by lies
The Breonna Taylor shooting fit the legacy media’s template of “systemic racism” too well to be fact-checked. “I’ve been around this business long enough to know how narratives get twisted. I knew the fact that I am a white police officer and Breonna Taylor was an unarmed black female gave this tragedy all the dynamics to explode into something it wasn’t, something race-driven,” he writes. “In today’s society, there’s nothing the media salivates over more than a good black/white narrative. It pushes ratings and increases their bottom line.”
The rest of “12 Seconds In The Dark” reveals a society turned upside-down by lies. Mattingly claims that the city refused to refute the media’s lies, even after he notes that a Black Lives Matter activist posted the names and contact information of himself and his fellow officers online. He notes with pain and distress the way his family had to flee their home on multiple occasions due to credible threats that someone — or in some cases, multiple gangs — would assassinate one or all of his loved ones in revenge. He notes how after the sale of his home, people continued to threaten the new owners, an Indian-American couple. The constant threat of harassment or death turned the most mundane of affairs into a pressure cooker. “Going to the grocery store was now more of a protection detail than a family chore,” he writes.
Yet Mattingly claims that officials refused to pursue charges against the suspected perpetrators of any of these actions, nor against Walker, on the basis of “optics.” Politicians cut deals with community organizers and enacted soft-on-crime policies that saw neighborhoods erupt with riots and the most vulnerable get victimized by rampant crime. “It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized,” he writes.
Of course, optics are the opposite of justice: Lady justice’s blindfold bars judges from taking note of the media narrative, the defendants’ race, or any other factor outside how the weight of the evidence tips her scales. “12 Seconds In The Dark” tracks how often public officials denied Mattingly and his family this cornerstone of society. “I too had been shot, but I was ignored as a victim by the FBI, lost my career, lost money, had to sell my house, lost privacy, lost my freedom and my sense of security, lost sleep, been stressed, worried for my family’s safety, been forced to leave town. All for doing the job that was asked of me that night,” he writes.
Politicians did not cower in fear alone: Mattingly says that the corporate and professional world also shut him out. Mattingly found himself struggling to find an attorney who would take him as a client. “Only one lawyer out of the group had the guts to tell me what I already knew. He told me that, due to his clientele base, taking me on would destroy his business,” he wrote. “No one wanted to be canceled, and from a logical standpoint I can’t say I blame them.” But becoming the shunned outcast of a twisted media narrative “did start to open my eyes to things,” he wrote: American culture awards privilege based, not on race, but on the acceptance of Woke politics. “Suddenly, the privileges afforded some were not being afforded to others due to race and profession. So, I guess Oprah” Winfrey, who had inserted herself into the issue, “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.”
Mattingly even found himself unable to raise funds to help his family survive after his long legal and physical ordeal. He writes that when he reluctantly agreed to have a friend open a GoFundMe page on his behalf, the platform shut it down within seven hours. “The bias against police and the immense pressure put on by these celebrities even extended to crowd funding organizations,” wrote Mattingly. “The low blows just seemed to keep coming. I’ve asked myself on many occasions, ‘Do the good guys ever win?’”
The question must still haunt him, as he and his family continue to hide for their own safety. When police find themselves reduced to the level of fugitives, taking their family on the lam because they served the justice system, every corner of American society should find itself haunted.
But first, his story has to be told.