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A Cop Involved In Breonna Taylor's Killing Said She'd Be Alive If Police Barged In Sooner. That’s “Outrageous,” Experts Said.

Police experts told BuzzFeed News that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly's response was "outrageous," "mind-boggling" and that it didn't make sense.

Posted on October 21, 2020, at 4:22 p.m. ET

ABC News / Via goodmorningamerica.com

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly

A Louisville cop involved in Breonna Taylor's killing said in a nationally televised interview Wednesday that she would be alive today if he and six other officers had stormed into her house faster and given her less time to react — which policing experts blasted as "outrageous," "mind-boggling," and "irrelevant."

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, one of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers who opened fire in Taylor's house in March, spoke publicly for the first time about the police raid that killed the 26-year-old Black EMT.

In an interview with ABC News and the Louisville Courier Journal on Wednesday, Mattingly said that one of the main things he would have done differently was to be more aggressive, barging into Taylor's house faster and not giving her enough time to respond to what he claimed were multiple knocks on her door by the officers and their shouts announcing themselves.

"What would I have done differently? The answer to that is simple now that I've been thinking about it," Mattingly told Good Morning America host Michael Strahan.

"Number one, we would have either served the no-knock warrant or we would have done the normal thing we do — which is 5 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%," he said.

Strahran pressed him, asking, "You think she would have been alive... if you had just stormed in and not given them time?" Mattingly replied, "I do."

Mattingly and six other Louisville officers were executing a "no-knock" warrant at Taylor's house as part of a narcotics investigation into Taylor's ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. One lieutenant who participated in the raid told a grand jury earlier this month that police had waited about 45 seconds to a minute before barging into Taylor's home, while another officer said it was closer to two minutes, the AP reported.

Mattingly said that the officers had expected Taylor was "going to be there by herself."

"That's why we gave her so much time," he said. "And in my opinion that was a mistake."

Three policing experts who spoke to BuzzFeed News were incredulous about Mattingly's approach.

"I think we all have outrage fatigue, but this is a truly outrageous statement," Pete Kraska, a criminal justice and police studies professor at Eastern Kentucky University, told BuzzFeed News.

"It indicates zero understanding of the issue of conducting dynamic entry raids on people's homes in the middle of the night; not to arrest a murderer but to look for evidence of minor drug infractions," Kraska said.

"And basically what [Mattingly is] saying is that he wishes he would have done a quick-knock raid, which is illegal, unconstitutional, and a huge part of the problem with police tactical raids," Kraska said.

Kirk Burkhalter, a New York Law School professor and a former New York Police Department detective, said it was "mind-boggling" that of all the "million ways" police could have done this differently, Mattingly was still fixated on thinking the only way to do this was to "to take the door off the hinges by surprise."

Even if police had barged in to her house sooner, Burkhalter said "there is a high likelihood the same result would have occurred."

Walter Signorelli, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired NYPD inspector, told BuzzFeed News that it would be impossible for anyone to predict what would have happened had police barged into Taylor's house sooner.

"It doesn't make sense to me," Signorelli said about Mattingly's statement.

Police usually execute no-knock warrants when there is evidence of narcotics involved. Signorelli said that if police believed that there was a drug dealer in the house, the drug dealer "is going to have a gun and he's going to have that gun ready in two seconds."

So it was "irrelevant," he added, if police had barged in sooner.

Courtesy of Aguiar Injury Lawyers

Breonna Taylor

Mattingly claimed that despite having a no-knock warrant, the officers knocked on Taylor's door six times and also repeatedly yelled, "Police, search warrant!"

He told Good Morning America that the officers were "just hoping she would come to the door."

He said that after they knocked, one of the other officers thought he heard someone coming to the door.

"So we stop, we listen. Nobody says anything. We yell again, 'Police, search warrant! Open the door if you're here,'" Mattingly said.

He said that when no one responded, one of the officers rammed the door open. Mattingly said that he was first inside the house and saw two figures standing side by side at the end of the hall.

"As soon as I turned the corner, my eyes went straight to the barrel of this gun," he said. "I could see the tip of it. And my eyes just focused in on it as soon as I saw it."

Then "everything happened in milliseconds," Mattingly said, describing the burning sensation he felt in his leg after he was shot by Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

"As soon as I felt the smack on my leg and the heat, I — boom, boom — returned four return shots, four shots," he said, adding that he had fired two additional rounds.

Mattingly said that the officers had no idea that Walker would be inside the apartment and in possession of a licensed handgun.

Walker later told authorities that he did not hear the officers announce themselves before they barged in and that he fired his gun because he thought they were intruders.

After Walker fired the single shot, three of the seven officers fired a total of 32 bullets into Taylor's apartment. Mattingly fired his weapon six times.

Policing experts said that while there are times when police have evidence to conduct a forced entry or a no-knock warrant during narcotics investigations, this was not the case with Taylor.

They said that the purpose of no-knock warrants is to not give the time and opportunity to suspected drug dealers to dispose of the drugs or to arm themselves.

The experts told BuzzFeed News that Louisville police had little to no evidence that Taylor was a threat, that she had firearms, or that she was in possession of drugs.

"The other tone-deaf part of [Mattingly's] statement is that the police should have not been there in the first place," Kraska said. "At best, it was a fishing expedition."

"If that's the only thing [Mattingly] could come up with, it reflects on that police department's practices," Burkhalter said. "They need to think about other options that would accomplish their job while protecting the people they police and themselves."

He said that there were many different ways that police could have executed a search warrant in a case where they did not have adequate evidence of Taylor's involvement in their investigation.

"There was no urgency," Burkhalter said, to execute the search warrant.

"In my experience as an NYPD investigator, I can’t understand why they simply wouldn't wait for her to come home from work," he said.

Responding to Mattingly's statement that the police had no idea that Walker would be at Taylor's home, Burkhalter said police would usually conduct surveillance on a subject to see whether the person lived with someone or whether other people frequented the subject's house.

Kraska said that Mattingly's response on how he would have conducted the raid differently "shows the brazen place those officers, or at least this officer," are working from.

He said that there was growing consensus that the police were "manufacturing a dangerous situation" when conducting surprise drug raids on private residences — not for serious crimes, but for minor drug infractions.

Kraska said that such surprise police raids are based on Navy Seals–type raids.

"That they're doing such tactical militarized raids on people's homes for the possibility that they're going to find evidence of drugs — most people are coming to the conclusion that it shouldn't be normal police practice," Kraska said.

Karla Ann Cote / Getty Images

Breonna Taylor protest in New York.

The police killings this year of Taylor and George Floyd, along with the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, sparked the recent movement of racial and social justice protests around the nation.

Mattingly insisted on GMA that Taylor's killing had nothing to do with her race, and that her killing was "not relatable" to Floyd's or Arbery's.

"It's not a race thing like people want to try to make it out 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," Mattingly said, without acknowledging evidence that police treat Black and Indigenous people and other people of color with more hostility and violence than white people. "This is not us going, hunting somebody down. This is not kneeling on a neck. It's nothing like that."

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said that Mattingly and the other officer who fired shots into Taylor's house were justified in their use of deadly force.

None of the officers have been directly charged for Taylor's killing. Brett Hankison is the only officer who was indicted by a grand jury last month for firing his gun into a neighboring apartment.

One of the jurors revealed Tuesday that the grand jury was not asked to consider any charges directly linked to Taylor's fatal shooting.

"The grand jury was not presented any charges other than the three Wanton Endangerment charges against Detective Hankison," the anonymous juror said in a statement. "Questions were asked about additional charges and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn't feel they could make them stick."

Mattingly told GMA that he felt for Taylor and for her family.

"It's not just a passing 'Oh, this is part of the job, we did it and move on,'" he said. "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. That's me having a heart and a soul, going as a parent, 'How do you move on?' I don't know. I don't want to experience it."

Last month, Mattingly prompted outrage after he sent an email to his LMPD colleagues defending his and the other officers' actions in Taylor's killing and referring to some racial justice protesters as "thugs."

"I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night,'" Mattingly wrote in the letter that was first reported by Vice. "It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized."


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