2020-10-21 15:29:26 | Breonna Taylor: Officer in shooting says it ‘was not a race thing’


Story by: BBC News

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Image shows Breonna Taylor

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image captionBreonna Taylor, 26, was a decorated emergency medical technician

A US policeman involved in the controversial killing of black woman Breonna Taylor in her home has broken his silence in his first interview.

Sgt Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot in the leg by Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, said the case had “nothing to do with race”.

Last month a Kentucky jury recommended that the three officers involved in the drug raid face no homicide charges.

The death of the 26-year-old hospital worker spurred Black Lives Matter protests across the country.

Mr Mattingly is one of three Louisville Metropolitan Police officers who prosecutors say were cleared of murder charges by a grand jury last month.

What did the officer say?

In an interview with ABC News and The Louisville Courier Journal, Mr Mattingly accused city officials of not coming to his defence in the aftermath of the shooting.

“It’s been excruciating,” he said. “When you have the truth right there in your hands and everything else is getting crammed around you, it’s frustrating.”

He added that although Ms Taylor’s death was tragic, it was not similar to other high-profile killings by police in recent months.

“It’s not a race thing like people want to try to make it 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,” he said.

“This is not us going, hunting somebody down. This is not kneeling on a neck. It’s nothing like that.”

“She didn’t deserve to die,” he continued. “She didn’t do anything to deserve a death sentence.”

In September, Mr Mattingly drew scrutiny after an email he wrote to more than 1,000 of his colleagues on the police force accused the city’s mayor and police chief of failing “all of us in epic proportions for their own gain and to cover their asses”.

He wrote “legal, moral and ethical thing that night,” adding: “It’s sad how the good guys are demonised, and the criminals are canonised.”

What did the grand jury rule?

On 23 September, a grand jury charged one officer, Brett Hankison – not with Ms Taylor’s death but with wanton endangerment for firing into a neighbour’s apartment.

The ruling reignited Black Lives Matter protests in Louisville against police misconduct and racial inequality.

Lawyers for the family of Ms Taylor said the grand jury – a panel drawn from members of the public to determine whether there is enough evidence to pursue a prosecution – were never asked by prosecutors to consider murder charges.

On Tuesday a member of the grand jury said the lawyers were correct.

The anonymous juror was permitted to release the statement by a judge who ruled it was in the public interest.

  • What is a US grand jury?

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image captionFrom left: Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove

After the juror’s statement was released, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron tweeted that he stood by his department’s work, and would not be appealing against the judge’s ruling.

Ms Taylor’s family sued the Kentucky city for the death in May and reached a $12m (£9.4m) settlement.

What happened to Breonna Taylor?

Plainclothes police officers Hankison, Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove stormed Ms Taylor’s Louisville home shortly after midnight on 13 March.

Ms Taylor was in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, at the time.

The officers were executing a search warrant as part of a drugs investigation.

Mr Walker fired a shot from his licensed gun, later telling police he thought that Ms Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, had broken in, according to the New York Times.

media captionBreonna Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker describes the night she was killed by police

Officials say Mr Walker’s bullet struck Mr Mattingly in the leg. The three officers returned fire, discharging 32 rounds, according to a ballistics report from the FBI.

Ms Taylor was shot amid the commotion and died on the hallway floor.

A subsequent police report contained errors, including listing Ms Taylor’s injuries as “none” and saying no force was used to enter, when a battering ram had been used.

Mr Hankison was fired from the police after investigators found he had “wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds” during the raid, according to his termination letter.

Mr Mattingly and Mr Cosgrove were reassigned to administrative duties.

Why did officers storm her home?

The search warrant obtained by police included Ms Taylor’s name and address. Authorities believed Mr Glover was involved in a drug ring and had used her apartment to hide narcotics.

No drugs were found at the property, though Jefferson County Prosecutor Thomas Wine said the search was cancelled after the shooting.

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe grand jury ruling last month reignited protests in Kentucky

Mr Glover was arrested for drug possession on the night of Breonna Taylor’s death. He has said that prosecutors pressed him to name Ms Taylor as a “co-defendant” in the case against him.

In May, Louisville postal inspector Tony Gooden said that another government agency had been asked in January to investigate whether Ms Taylor’s home had been receiving suspicious mail. Mr Gooden did not name the agency but said it had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Mr Glover also told the Courier Journal that he had sent packages of clothes and shoes to Ms Taylor’s apartment because he feared they would be stolen from his own home.

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Source References: BBC News
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