According to CNN, a Kentucky-based Republican women’s group has been asked to apologize to Breonna Taylor’s family for holding an event at a restaurant where it allegedly played video footage of the deadly 2020 raid. John Mattingly, one of the officers involved in the killing of the Black woman, was also invited to speak at the event.
According to the Bowling Green-Warren County Branch of the NAACP, the Tuesday program was held at a Greek restaurant in Bowling Green, and patrons were not informed that the Republican Women’s Club of South Central Kentucky was organizing such an event.
Diners at the restaurant also told the news outlet that they heard gunshots, sirens, and confusion but couldn’t confirm if it was video footage of Taylor’s murder. Cayce Johnson, one of the restaurant’s patrons, said she noticed the event as soon as she stepped inside. According to reports, the event was 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.”
Taylor, 26, was killed in her home while sleeping with her boyfriend in a botched narcotics raid by the Louisville Metro Police Department, as previously reported by HowAfrica. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired at officers executing a “no-knock” warrant, striking Mattingly in the leg. Officers Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove returned fire, hitting Taylor several times. Walker claimed he was acting in self-defense because he thought intruders were breaking into his home.
In the aftermath of the botched raid, Mattingly was never charged. He eventually retired after being placed on administrative leave. Hankison was charged with wanton endangerment, making him the only officer charged in the deadly raid. However, he was acquitted of those charges in March of last year.
Following the fatal encounter, Mattingly allegedly sent a mass email to around 1,000 of his coworkers, justifying their actions that fateful night and criticizing 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 present at the restaurant with her family during the event. She told the news organization that she couldn’t see what was going on upstairs. However, she stated that her family had difficulty conversing due to 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.”