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Simon & Schuster won’t distribute book by police officer involved in Breonna Taylor fatal shooting

The Independent logo The Independent 17/04/2021 Gustaf Kilander
Elorm Senoo holding a sign © Provided by The Independent

Simon & Schuster has announced it will not distribute a book written by a police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Post Hill Press, a small conservative publishing house distributed by Simon & Schuster, is set to release the book in the fall by Sgt Jonathan Mattingly about the incident and its aftermath, titled The Fight For Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy.

In a statement on Thursday, Simon & Schuster said: “Like much of the American public, earlier today Simon & Schuster learned of plans by distribution client Post Hill Press to publish a book by Jonathan Mattingly. We have subsequently decided not to be involved in the distribution of this book.”

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Post Hill Press has previously published books by Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz and conservative pundit Dan Bongino.

A spokesperson for Post Hill Press told The Associated Press that it supports the free speech rights of writers and that Sgt Mattingly “deserves to have his account of the tragic events heard publicly”.

A spokesperson added: “His story is important and it deserves to be heard by the public at large. We feel strongly that an open dialogue is essential to [shine] a light on the challenging issues our country is facing.”

At 12:40am on March 13 last year, seven officers from the Louisville Police Department were on the scene to execute a no-knock warrant at Ms Taylor’s home in the city during a drugs raid.

Three officers discharged their weapons in response to gunfire from inside the apartment. Sgt Mattingly and detective Myles Cosgrove fired shots that hit Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker. She died in the hallway of her apartment after being shot six times.

The FBI concluded that Mr Cosgrove fired the bullet that killed her, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. A third officer, detective Brett Hankison, also fired his weapon.

Sgt Mattingly was shot in the leg by Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, after he fired a weapon when the officers used a battering ram to force their way into the home. No drugs were found in the apartment.

Ms Taylor’s death, and the subsequent police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, sparked months of racial justice protests in Louisville, and across the US.

Post Hill Press says on its website that it focuses on “pop culture, business, self-help, health, current events, Christian, and conservative political books”.

The decision to publish the book was excoriated by critics.

Attica Scott, a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, tweeted: “Stay focused, y’all. People love to profit off of Black pain and tragedy. It sells.”

Pastor Bruce Williams of Bates Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, added: “Racists and white supremacists will always find a way to profit from Black bodies. This disgusting attempt to rewrite events to invent a lie he can live with is abhorrent. He’s a criminal who should be in jail.”

Mr Walker was initially charged in the shooting of Sgt Mattingly. He said that he didn’t know that it was police officers at the door when he fired his weapon.

Sgt Mattingly has claimed he knocked and announced that it was the police. The charges against Mr Walker have since been dismissed but both he and Sgt Mattingly have civil suits pending against one another.

The officer sued Mr Walker in October for battery, assault and emotional distress, claiming that he was owed damages for medical treatment, trauma and the pain due to being shot.

Sgt Mattingly’s lawyer said that his client was “shot and nearly killed,” adding that “he’s entitled to, and should, use the legal process to seek a remedy for the injury that Walker has caused him”.

The officer’s legal action came after Mr Walker filed a $10.5million lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Louisville and Jefferson County metro government and members of the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Mr Walker is seeking damages for false arrest, malicious prosecution and assault in addition to other claims, CNN reported.

None of the officers have been charged in the death of Ms Taylor. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has said Sgt Mattingly and detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

In September, after an investigation that lasted four months, Mr Cameron presented the case to a grand jury. The jury indicted Mr Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment for bullets that went into another apartment. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is set to begin on 31 August.

Detectives Cosgrove and Hankison were fired from the department following the fatal shooting. Sgt Mattingly remains on the job.

The Independent reached out to the Louisville Metro Police Department for comment on Friday.

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