Right-wing media seized on an ABC/Courier-Journal interview with one of officers who raided Breonna Taylor's apartment

Image of Breonna Taylor and ABC/Courier-Journal logos
Molly Butler / Media Matters

This week, ABC News and the Louisville Courier-Journal aired a joint interview with Jonathan Mattingly, a police officer who participated in a March raid that killed Breonna Taylor and ignited a wave of protests demanding justice for her. The interview allowed Mattingly to position himself as a victim, giving his version of events and denying the police brutality and systemic racism at the heart of the case. It was also utilized by right-wing media to advance conservative narratives downplaying police brutality or arguing that the police shooting of Taylor was justified. 

For months, there have been nationwide protests demanding justice for Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician who was killed in her home during an overnight no-knock police raid in mid-March. Three officers who participated in the raid and shooting were put on administrative leave, and in late September, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the grand jury decision charging only one officer with wanton endangerment. Cameron’s press conference and the decision were criticized over inconsistencies in light of released evidence, and additional grand jury materials have since appeared to contradict Cameron and raise further questions about the investigation. This past week, a judge granted an anonymous grand juror the ability to speak publicly about the case and in a statement, the juror “said the grand jury was not given the option of returning any charges other than wanton endangerment.”

On Wednesday, ABC and the Courier-Journal released an excerpt from their interview with Mattingly, reportedly one of three officers who fired shots during the raid but not the one who killed her. After giving his version of events from the night, Mattingly said he did not want to play “the big victim card” but claimed, “I was a victim in this as well. My family has been a victim in this.” He denied that race played a role in the shooting and insisted that “it’s not a race thing, like people want to try to make it to be.” Mattingly also downplayed the existence of systemic racism in policing in the United States or in incidents of police brutality and insisted that “good police” don’t “racial profile," they “criminal profile,” where there are “different elements … that you can tell” someone is a criminal. When discussing George Floyd’s case -- a Black man killed by police in Minnesota earlier this year -- Mattingly agreed there was wrongdoing by the officer in that case, but added that “in my opinion, George Floyd was not a model citizen.” 

After the grand jury’s decision was announced in September, right-wing media insisted that the shooting was justified, defended the officers involved, attacked the protesters demanding justice, and denied the role of racism in the shooting, the subsequent investigation, and the grand jury decision.

Shortly after the excerpts of the interview were released, right-wing media boosted Mattingly’s claims, emphasizing his remorse and highlighting his insistence that race was not a factor in the incident.

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