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In Email, Sgt. Mattingly Encourages Officers At Protests To 'Do What You Need To Do'

Protesters march on overpass near Churchill Downs in Louisville on August 25, 2020.
Protesters march on overpass near Churchill Downs in Louisville on August 25, 2020.

As the city prepares to learn whether the Louisville Metro Police officers who shot Breonna Taylor will be indicted, one of those officers sent an email to LMPD colleagues, saying their leaders are inept, scared and unwilling to protect police officers like him.

“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,” Sgt. Jon Mattingly wrote in the early morning email, first reported by Vice News and independently verified by KyCIR.

Mattingly said he was sorry his fellow officers had to deal with the protests, and he encouraged police to be strong and “do what you need to do” to get home to their families.

“Just do it with dignity and make sure you can justify your actions because everything down there is recorded,” he said.

Mattingly was one of three officers who fired their weapons while executing a search warrant at Breonna Taylor’s home in March. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said they thought someone was breaking in when he fired what he described as a warning shot. Police said that shot struck Mattingly, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. Taylor was shot five times.

Mattingly has not spoken publicly about the shooting. No video evidence has been released, as LMPD officials have said Mattingly and other plainclothes officers weren’t wearing body cameras.

The email comes as the LMPD prepares for expected protests downtown in the wake of the attorney general’s announcement, the timing of which has not been made public. The police and city declared states of emergency. City workers installed barriers overnight around downtown and said parking would be banned between Second and Ninth Streets, from Market Street to Broadway, indefinitely.

No vehicle traffic will be allowed near Jefferson Square, where protest activity has been centered and protesters have maintained an evolving memorial to Taylor and to David McAtee, who was shot and killed by the National Guard on June 1.

During a press conference Tuesday morning, interim chief Robert Schroeder said it was “too premature” to talk about Mattingly’s email.

In the email, Mattingly defends his actions the night he and other officers shot Taylor.

“Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night,” he said. “It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.”

Mattingly also referred to protesters as “thugs” who get in officers’ faces, throwing bricks, bottles and urine, and “expect you to do nothing.”

A similar sentiment arose last week as Lt. Col. Josh Judah described the ongoing protests as something akin to a street fight between police protesters.

Judah, who commanded ground level operations for the LMPD during the early days of the protests, provided no evidence as he testified before the Louisville Metro Council’s Government Oversight and Accountability committee and painted a vicious scene of police being attacked by “angry” protesters with “medieval style weapons.”

“Those were some of the longest days that myself and the other officers ever had,” Judah said.

Now, police seem to be preparing for another round of long days following the attorney general’s announcement. Chief Schroeder, in a memo to police earlier this week, cancelled officer off-days and vacations “until further notice.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.