In his first public comments since Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police seven months ago, one of the officers involved said he would have conducted the raid differently and said the incident would be with him for the rest of his life.
In an interview with ABC News and the Courier Journal newspaper, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly expressed sympathy for the relatives of Taylor, whose death has been one focus of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism this year.
“I feel for her. I hurt for her mother and for her sisters,” Mattingly, a two-decade veteran of the Louisville Metro Police Department, said in the interview.
“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 said that Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician who was shot and killed during a botched police raid of her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky in the early hours of March 13, “didn’t deserve to die”.
Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, who was with her when the police burst into the home, fired once at what he said he believed were criminal intruders, wounding Mattingly.
Three police officers responded with 32 shots, six of which struck Taylor, killing her. The officers have said they repeatedly identified themselves while executing a search warrant in relation to a drug investigation focused on Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. No drugs were found in her apartment.
Mattingly, 44, said one of the things he would have done differently would have been to burst into the apartment more quickly without giving her time to move towards the door.
Mattingly said the police knocked multiple times and repeatedly said, “Police, search warrant!”
“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,” Mattingly said.
“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. Because if that had happened … Breonna Taylor would be alive, 100 percent,” Mattingly said.
A grand jury last month charged one officer who also fired his gun with endangering Taylor’s neighbours, but none of the three was charged in Taylor’s death, sparking another wave of outrage and protests.
On Tuesday, an anonymous grand juror won a court battle to speak publicly and said the panel was not given the option to consider charges related to Taylor’s death because prosecutors believed the officers were justified in using force.
Mattingly said the protests and media reports that followed the shooting unfairly compared Taylor’s death to the slaying of George Floyd in Minnesota and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
“It’s not a race thing like people wanna try to make it to be. It’s not,” he said. “This is not us going, hunting somebody down. This is not kneeling on a neck. It’s nothing like that.”
Floyd died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Arbery was fatally shot by two white men while Arbery was jogging in a neighbourhood on February 23.
Mattingly said misinformation about the March 13 shooting spread rapidly and said city and police leaders should have acted more swiftly to dispel “false narratives” about the incident, including that police were at the wrong house and that Taylor was sleeping in her bed when she was shot.
Mattingly said he will likely leave the Louisville police department since he has reached the years of service needed for retirement.