LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville police officer shot in Breonna Taylor raid files defamation suit over statements to media


Former Louisville Metro Police Detective Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot by Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, while leading a raid into Taylor's home on March 13, 2020, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Walker's attorney.

The lawsuit, filed in Edmonson Circuit Court on Tuesday, claims Louisville attorney Steve Romines told a media outlet last October that Mattingly "executed" Taylor when police burst into her apartment on Springfield Drive as part of a series of raids that targeted narcotics trafficking.

Taylor was shot and killed by police. No drugs or weapons were found in her home.

The suit claims Romines accused Mattingly of "breaking" into Taylor's apartment, trying to "frame" Walker for a crime and covering up "Mattingly's 'purported' murder."

"All of these accusations are demonstrably false," according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Edmonson County because Mattingly previously lived there. "Romines plainly accuses Mattingly of criminal conduct that ... he did not commit."

In an interview, Romines said Mattingly's attorney "requested I retract (the statements) a year ago and I refused. I'm not retracting it now. I stand by the truth."

A letter from Mattingly's attorney requesting Romines retract his statements and Romines' response are included as exhibits in the lawsuit.

Mattingly, who retired from LMPD in June, is writing a book titled, "The Fight for Truth: The Inside Story Behind The Breonna Taylor Tragedy," set to be published by the conservative media company Daily Wire and its publishing company DW Books.

In the lawsuit, Mattingly, who is represented by attorney Todd McMurty, claims the facts of the case were made available on Sept. 23, 2020, when Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that only one officer, Brett Hankison, would be indicted in the raid.

Cameron told reporters that his office and the Jefferson County grand jury both agreed that Mattingly and former Det. Myles Cosgrove were "justified" in returning a shot fired first by Walker. Walker, who was standing in the apartment's hallway, has said he believed police were intruders breaking into the apartment before 1 a.m. March 13. Mattingly was shot in the leg.

"Romines ignored that information and made knowingly false statements," according to the lawsuit. "The information that Romines ignored completely exculpated Mattingly and wholly contradicts and undermines Romines' false narrative."

At the time, Cameron said the state has "vigorous" self-defense laws.

"According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves," Cameron said. "This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor's death."

In Romines' response letter to Mattingly's attorney, he said Cameron did not investigate parts of Taylor's shooting and statements he made have been proven to be "false or highly misleading."

Walker filed a lawsuit against Kentucky and Louisville Metro governments, Mattingly and several other current or former city police officers on Sept. 1, 2020 accusing police and other authorities of making a false arrest and negligence. Romines is representing Walker in the lawsuit.

Mattingly has filed a countersuit. Both lawsuits are pending.

The alleged defamatory statements by Romines were in an Oct. 30, 2020, article by WHAS about Mattingly suing Walker.

"Romines' false narrative was republished by many other news stations, which spread his lie to thousands of readers and viewers across the country," according to the lawsuit.

Taylor's death touched off Louisville's racial justice protests and gained national prominence as demonstrations spread across the U.S. in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who died after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck as he pleaded, "I can't breathe."

The suit claims Mattingly is not a public figure and has suffered "demonstrable hatred, ridicule, and contempt."

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified compensatory damages and a jury trial.