Louisville, Kentucky, police officer Jonathan Mattingly — who was one of three officers involved in the police killing of Breonna Taylor in March — wrote an email to his fellow officers early Tuesday railing against “thugs” and saying, “We did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”
“You DO NOT deserve to be in this position. The position that allows thugs to get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you,” Mattingly, who is white, wrote in a 2 a.m. email to about 1,000 Louisville officers, reported Vice News. Mattingly’s attorney later confirmed to several news outlets that his client sent the email.
“The position that if you make a mistake during one of the most stressful times in your career, the department and FBI … go after you for civil rights violations,” he added.
Early the morning of March 13, police executed a “no-knock” warrant at the apartment of Taylor, a Black medical technician, and her boyfriend, who both were asleep. The warrant was for a narcotics investigation not involving Taylor or her boyfriend. Mattingly was one of three officers who fired more than 20 gunshots, several of which hit the 26-year-old woman, killing her. Her boyfriend, who said he didn’t hear police announce their presence before breaking into the apartment, shot Mattingly once in the leg.
Kentucky’s attorney general and the FBI are investigating the killing. Mattingly and another officer, Myles Cosgrove, were placed on administrative leave. The third officer, Brett Hankinson, was fired about three months later, after a string of protests. None of the three has been charged.
In Mattingly’s email, he claimed officers “wanted to do the right thing in the midst of an evil world” and that “police DO NOT CARE if you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian.”
In fact, studies have repeatedly found racial bias in police conduct. Police interactions with Black people in particular are disproportionately likely to end in excessive force or death.
“Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night,” Mattingly added. “It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.”
Louisville’s mayor declared a state of emergency Tuesday, reportedly anticipating an announcement in the case over Taylor’s death.
Last week, Taylor’s family reached a settlement for $12 million in their wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
Taylor was one of several high-profile police killings of Black people this year. After protests grew nationwide in response to the police killing of George Floyd in May, many activists called for renewed attention on Taylor’s death, noting Black women don’t often get the same level of public outrage as men. People have been protesting in Louisville for months calling for justice for Taylor and for the arrest of the officers involved.