Jon Mattingly: Officer involved in Breonna Taylor shooting sends candid email to LMPD colleagues
Sergeant says note was intended to show support for officers
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - LMPD Sgt. Jon Mattingly confirmed to WAVE 3 News that he sent a strongly-worded email to his department colleagues early Tuesday morning.
In the email, Mattingly, one of three LMPD officers involved in the deadly Breonna Taylor shooting in March, referred to some protesters as thugs, saying they will “throw bricks, bottles and urine” on officers, and will “get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you.”
When LMPD Interim Chief Robert Schroeder was asked about the email at a news conference Tuesday morning, he said, “It’s a little premature to talk about that. It’s something developing, so we’ll have something out later.”
Mattingly and two other narcotics officers fired their guns the night of the Taylor raid, which left the 26-year-old bleeding to death on the floor of her apartment hallway. Her death has sparked more than 100 days of local protests at a time when the country is confronted with a racial reckoning.
Mattingly and detectives Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison were placed on administrative reassignment immediately following the Taylor shooting, per department protocol. Mattingly was shot during the raid but has recovered from his injury. Hankison was later fired for “blindly” shooting 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment from outside of it, according to his termination letter.
As the city braces for Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement of whether to criminally charge the officers involved in Taylor’s death, Mattingly said in his email that it’s “not an us against society, but it is good versus evil.”
In the email, sent just after 2 a.m. Tuesday, Mattingly blasted city and department leadership, calling them “pencil pushers,” but said the intention of his note was to show support for his LMPD colleagues who are bracing for a tumultuous week.
On Monday, LMPD declared a state of emergency, just minutes after announcing it was canceling time-off requests from its officers. Another sign suggesting Cameron’s announcement is imminent was the sight of crews installing concrete barricades in several locations around downtown Louisville on Monday evening. And Tuesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced his own state of emergency, which includes a ban on on-street parking downtown.
When VICE News reporter Roberto Ferdman was first to tweet screengrabs of Mattingly’s email Tuesday, the comments were packed with strong criticism of Mattingly. But the sergeant, who has never spoken publicly about the case, told WAVE 3 News' Natalia Martinez that his critics might have a different view if they read the email in its entirety, which you can do below:
(WARNING: Portions of this unedited letter may contain language that might offend some readers)
"I’m not here to give you a Rah Rah you got this speech. I’m not here to tell you that you signed up to help this community and to keep your head up. I’m here to tell you I’m sorry you have to go through this. I’m sorry your families have to go through this. I’m sorry the Mayor, Amy Hess and Chief Conrad failed all of us in epic proportions for their own gain and to cover their asses.
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. Throw bricks, bottles and urine on you and expect you to do nothing. It goes against EVERYTHING we were all taught in the academy. The position that if you make a mistake during one of the most stressful times in your career, the department and FBI (who aren’t cops and would piss their pants if they had to hold the line) go after you for civil rights violations. Your civil rights mean nothing, but the criminal has total autonomy.
We all signed up to be police officers. We knew the risks and were willing to take them, but we always assumed the city had your back. We wanted To do the right thing in the midst of an evil world to protect those who cannot protect themselves. To enforce laws that make it possible to live in a peaceful society. We as police DO NOT CARE if you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, what you identify as...this week. We aren’t better than anyone. This is not an us against society, but it is good versus evil. We are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, parters, brothers, sisters, dads and moms. We are human beings with flaws, feelings and emotions.
Now I’m just rambling, but I want you to know that I’m still proud to be a cop. To be an LMPD cop. No matter the ineptitude in upper command or the mayors office, this is one of the greatest jobs on earth. With that being said these next few days are going to be tough. They are going to be long, they are going to be frustrating. They will put a tremendous amount of stress on your families. Do not let your ego get you in a trick bag. Have your partners 6. De escalate if possible. DO NOT give the pencil pushers at the top, you know the ones who are too scared to hold the line, a reason to open investigations on you. The same ones that couldn’t make decisions to save their lives. We need leaders that lead from the front and not in a room under a desk. Do what you need to do to go home you your family. Just do it with dignity and make sure you can justify your actions because everything down there is recorded.
I don’t know a lot of you guys/gals but I’ve felt the love. Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night. It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized. Put that aside for a while, keep your focus and do your jobs that you are trained and capable of doing. Don’t put up with their shit, and go home to those lovely families and relationships.
I wish I were there with you leading the charge. I’ll be praying for your safety. Remember you are just a pawn in the Mayors political game. I’m proof they do not care about you or your family, and you are replaceable. Stay safe and do the right thing. YOU ARE LOVED AND SUPPORTED by most of the community. Now go be the Warriors you are, but please be safe! None of these “peaceful” protesters are worth your career or freedom. God speed boys and girls."
A former LMPD officer of 31 years, Chuck Cooper, said the way Mattingly has been treated after being shot and injured in the line of duty is a travesty and an outrage, saying he understands and supports his email to his fellow officers.
Mattingly’s wife posted to Facebook Tuesday night in defense of her husband. She began the post by writing “as a mother, I empathize with the pain Taylor’s mother feels for losing a child.”
In the lengthy post, she writes about the five-hour surgery her husband underwent the night of the shooting, how her family has been in hiding since, and how it has caused night terrors and anxiety for her young son.
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She also addresses the part in her husband’s emails where he calls some protesters “thugs.” She says he was not defining the peaceful protesters and was referring to the radical groups who have “taken it upon themselves to be violent.”
UofL professor Dr. Ricky Jones says he’s not surprised by what Sgt. Mattingly said.
“I think that he’s simply expressing what a good percentage of LMPD officers believe,” Jones said.
Jones says Mattingly calling some of the protesters “thugs" is an example of a deep-rooted culture within the department. He finds the email honest.
”That honesty is simultaneously refreshing and terrifying that they see a good percentage of the people who they patrol, as well as people who are exercising, you know, their rights to gather and protest when they feel that someone has been mistreated, and wrongfully killed in this community, as thugs," Jones said.
Mattingly addressed the night at Breonna Taylor’s apartment saying he and the officers did the “legal, moral and ethical” thing.
”People don’t change their behavior if they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong, and Sgt. Mattingly, for one, is clear he doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong," Jones said. “So, in this, they, in effect, feel that they are the victims.”
Mattingly urges officers to be safe and to watch their response since everything is being recorded, warning the FBI could go after them for violating civil rights, adding “the criminal has total autonomy” and doubting the ability of federal agents to be able to tackle the job that officers on the streets face.
“The question is, what percentage of LMPD is he speaking for?” Jones asked. “So, if police officers do not come out right now and say look, this does not reflect our sentiment about this case or overall, then their silence is taken as complicity.”
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