Police sergeant Jonathan Mattingly is suing Kenneth Walker for allegedly shooting him in the leg the night of Breonna Taylor's tragic death.
In the latest disturbing addition to the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly of the Louisville Police filed suit this week against Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
Sergeant Mattingly's suit comes weeks after Kenneth Walker filed a lawsuit against the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department alleging assault, malicious prosecution, and negligence, among other charges related to the night police killed 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor.
Louisville police officer sues Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, for emotional distress www.youtube.com
The Killing of Breonna Taylor
It was mid-March, after midnight in Louisville Kentucky, when Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker heard a loud banging at her apartment door.
Walker reports that Taylor called out, "Who is it?" to no response, at which point Walker armed himself with his licensed 9mm handgun. An initial "no-knock" warrant—issued on the basis that Taylor's ex-boyfriend, alleged drug dealer Jamarcus Glover—had received a package there, had been revised to require officers to knock at the door and announce their presence.
But witnesses disagree about whether three white narcotics officers dressed in plain clothes announced themselves as police at all—most asserting that they heard no announcement at all. If officers did announce themselves, it seems it was only in passing.
The officers then took a battering ram to the apartment door, knocking it loose from its hinges, and prompting Kenneth Walker to fire a single warning shot at the unknown intruders. Again, there are conflicting reports about whether that warning shot struck Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh, or if his injury may have come from another weapon entirely. In either case, it was then that the officers opened fire.
No effort was made to communicate with the shooter or determine whether there were bystanders inside before officers sent 32 rounds into Breonna Taylor's apartment.
At least five of those bullets struck Taylor, mortally wounding her. Three others entered the home of a neighboring white family, and two went through the ceiling into the home of the Black family that lived above Taylor.
Kenneth Walker called 911 to report that people had broken into their apartment and shot his girlfriend. He was uninjured, and taken in on charges of attempted murder for the single shot he fired in a clear case of self defense. Those charges were later dropped amid public outcry.
When charges of wanton endangerment were finally brought against one of the officers—Detective Brett Hankison—it was for the three bullets that penetrated the white family's home. No charges were brought in connection with Taylor's death or the endangerment of her upstairs neighbors.
Two anonymous members of the grand jury tasked with assessing charges in the case have since come forward with reports that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not present the full evidence regarding homicide charges.
One grand juror claims that AG Cameron used them as a shield to avoid taking responsibility in a controversial case that has become a point of focus for the Black Lives Matter movement. As a result, Cameron has sought to prevent grand jurors from speaking publicly on the case.
Incompetence Without Malice?
As disturbing as those facts are on their own, they do not touch the full evil of the case. It's possible to interpret the events as related as a result of gross incompetence without malice, and an effort to protect officers and other state officials from the repercussions of their tragic negligence.
If that was the entirety of the injustice involved, it would be a strong argument for serious reform of both police practices—defunding and disarming could be a good start—and the systems that are supposedly intended to hold officers accountable.
It would further highlight the systemic lack of concern for Black Americans made to contend with a "justice" system that brutalizes them. But it would not necessarily point to any of the individuals involved as heartless or intentionally cruel.
Should police respond to a warning shot from an unseen source by firing recklessly through doors and windows into rooms they can't see? Obviously not. But natural fear, combined with insufficient training, are enough to explain that. Even Walker's arrest could be attributed to confusion and uncertainty of that night, before the evidence made it clear that he had only acted in self-defence.
As for the lack of accountability for those involved, cowardice and cronyism cover that. Detective Hankison—implicated in unrelated sexual assault allegations—was selected as the scape goat, and the others were protected.
The human failings involved are deeply depressing, but they can all exist without ill will or inhumanity. It's only with the addition of this latest civil suit from Sergeant Mattingly that any gray area is left behind.
Standards of Decency and Morality
The suit seems to be a clear response to Walker's case, which accuses the police department of gross misconduct and asserts that ballistic evidence points to another police weapon as the source of Mattingly's injury.
In a statement on his suit against the LMPD, Walker said, "The charges brought against me were meant to silence me and cover up Breonna's murder." As if attempting to prove his point for him, Mattingly is now suing Walker for "severe trauma, mental anguish, and emotional distress," allegedly caused by Walker shooting him in the leg.
Worse still, the lawsuit insists that Walker's use of a legally-owned firearm against unknown individuals forcing entry into his home is "outrageous, intolerable, and offends all accepted standards of decency and morality."
Even if Mattingly fully believes—against the evidence—that Kenneth Walker knew he was firing on police officers, the idea of characterizing himself as the aggrieved party is horrifying.
What we need to understand here is that while Breonna Taylor was murdered, and Kenneth Walker watched the love of h… https://t.co/jvK3wq7xMB— Tyrese Haliburton (@Tyrese Haliburton)1604078604.0
It was Kenneth Walker who was made to sit there while his girlfriend was shot and slowly died. It was Kenneth Walker who was then arrested and had his life hang in limbo over a bogus charge of attempted murder tied to a single shot—compared to 32 flying in the other direction.
Jonathan Mattingly, by contrast, was shot in the leg while bursting through a stranger's front door, had his wound treated, was defended from prosecution by the state's attorney general, and has even kept his job.
Institutional Harassment or Virulent Racism
There are only two conceivable ways for a person in Mattingly's situation to conclude that he should sue Kenneth Walker. It's either, as Walker's attorney recently framed it, part of a deliberate effort to "further victimize and harass Kenny"—so that Walker will be cowed into dropping his own suit thus saving the LMPD a lot of money—or it's the result of Mattingly completely dehumanizing both Kenneth Walker and Breonna Taylor.
If Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly does not see Black people as fully human, maybe it's easy for him to ignore their perspectives.
He doesn't have to consider the fear for himself and his loved ones that motivated Kenneth Walker to shoot at intruders. He doesn't have to imagine the tragedy of being unable to save your girlfriend's life after she's shot by men from whom you tried to defend her, or the terror of being held for months in fear of losing your freedom.
Breonna Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker details the night of her death in an exclusive interview www.youtube.com
He doesn't have to hear the hurt in Walker's voice saying, "That was my best friend. The most important person pretty much to me on the Earth. And they took her."
If Jonathan Mattingly sees Black people as a subhuman underclass to be controlled through fear and violence, then of course Kenneth Walker should be punished for injuring a white man.
So which is it? Is there a systemic effort to suppress all criticism of institutional violence through campaigns of harassment and intimidation, or are American police forces so welcoming to virulent racists that Jonathan Mattingly gets to keep his job despite an open willingness to dehumanize Black people? Maybe it's both.
In any case, it "offends all accepted standards of decency and morality," and we're faced with a horrifying indictment of the American "justice" system's capacity for evil. Even if this lawsuit is justly thrown out, we should not ignore the disturbing message it has sent.