A Kentucky-based Republican women’s group is being asked to apologize to Breonna Taylor’s family after it held an event at a restaurant where it allegedly played video footage of the deadly 2020 raid, CNN reported. John Mattingly, who was one of the officers involved in the Black woman’s killing, was also invited to speak at the event.
The Bowling Green-Warren County Branch of the NAACP said the Tuesday program was held at a Greek restaurant in Bowling Green, adding that patrons weren’t told the Republican Women’s Club of South Central Kentucky was organizing an event of such nature.
Diners at the restaurant also told the news outlet that though they heard sounds of gunshots, sirens and confusion, they couldn’t confirm if it was indeed video footage of Taylor’s killing. One of the diners at the restaurant, Cayce Johnson, said she noticed the event was taking place when she entered the establishment. The event was reportedly held upstairs.
“They had a sound system. It was being broadcast throughout the whole restaurant,” Johnson recalled. “We could hear every word. And when the lady introduced John Mattingly [one of the officers involved in Taylor’s killing], my jaw dropped.”
As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, Taylor, 26, was killed in her home while sleeping with her boyfriend in a botched narcotics raid by the Louisville Metro Police Department. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at the officers who were executing a “no-knock” warrant, hitting Mattingly in the leg. Mattingly, together with officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, returned fire, hitting Taylor several times. Walker claimed he acted in self-defense as he believed intruders were breaking into the home.
Charges were never brought against Mattingly in the wake of the botched raid. He later retired after he was put on administrative leave. Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment – making him the only officer to face charges in connection with the deadly raid. But he was acquitted of those charges last March.
Following the fatal encounter, Mattingly reportedly sent a broadcast email to around 1,000 of his colleagues, justifying their actions that fateful night and also condemning authorities for allegedly hanging them out to dry.
“He went through everything, talked about the investigation and then played several tapes during his presentation,” Johnson told CNN.
Katelyn Jones was also at the restaurant with her family at the time of the event. She told the news outlet that she could not see what was taking place upstairs. But she said her family had difficulties maintaining a conversation because of the sound of police radio chatter, sirens, and gunshots.
“Towards the end of our meal, the lights shut off and we heard police radio chatter and sirens on a recording. We heard the gunshots, too, and it was so loud and chaotic. It was really loud,” Jones recalled.
Jones said that when her family ultimately complained about the loud noise, the event attendees began telling them to keep quiet. She also said some men were seemingly hostile towards them.
“These patrons had to see and listen to graphic descriptions of the incident which killed Breonna Taylor because Mattingly was provided video equipment, a microphone, and a speaker and was able to be heard throughout the restaurant,” said the NAACP.
“It is beyond reprehensible to subject anyone, let alone children and customers of African American descent, to such indecent exposure, graphic and upsetting images while they were attempting to enjoy their meal.”
But leading up to the event, the Republican Women’s Club of South Central Kentucky released a statement saying it believed Mattingly had “the right to share” his side of the story, Spectrum News reported.
“These events may be controversial, however, we believe Sgt. Mattingly has the right to share his experience,” the group said. “Other individuals with firsthand experience relating to this case are welcome to request an opportunity to speak to our organization as well.”
The event was initially set to be held at a different venue, the NAACP said. And though it was initially canceled because of how “controversial” it was, the organizers made another U-turn and held the event at the restaurant that same night.
“They have had no accountability in this. They took their Facebook page down and are just laying low,” Johnson said about the group. “They need to apologize first and foremost and they need to apologize to Breonna Taylor’s family.”
She added: “I want accountability from this group. They give powerful people platforms and they need to explain to the community and Breonna Taylor’s family why they gave him [Mattingly] a platform.”