A Louisville police officer who shot Breonna Taylor after he was wounded by her boyfriend has said she “didn’t deserve to die”.
Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly said the 26-year-old emergency medical worker who was roused from her bed by police serving a drugs warrant “didn’t do anything to deserve a death sentence”.
He has spoken to ABC News and the Louisville Courier Journal, his first media interviews on the shooting that sparked weeks of protests in the city.
Mr Mattingly said he and his fellow officers had gone to Ms Taylor’s flat to serve a warrant in a drug case that targeted her ex-boyfriend and had to defend themselves once they were fired at.
“You want to do the right thing,” Mr Mattingly said.
“You want to be the one who is protecting, not up here looking to do any damage to anybody’s family.
“That’s not anybody’s desire that I’ve worked with.”
The sergeant and another officer, Myles Cosgrove, fired into the apartment’s front entry after Ms Taylor’s new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot Mr Mattingly in the leg.
Mr Walker said he thought an intruder had come through the door.
Ms Taylor was shot five times and died at the scene.
A grand jury last month charged a third officer who also fired his gun with endangering Ms Taylor’s neighbours but none of the three were charged over her death.
On Tuesday, an anonymous grand juror won a court battle to speak publicly and said the panel was not given the option to consider charges related to Ms Taylor’s death because prosecutors believed the officers were justified in using force.
Mr Mattingly, 44, said the protests and media reports that followed the shooting unfairly compared Ms Taylor’s death with those of George Floyd in Minnesota and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
“It’s not a race thing like people want to try to make it to be,” he said.
“It’s not. This is not us going, hunting somebody down.
“This is not kneeling on a neck. It’s nothing like that.”
Mr Floyd died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Mr Arbery was fatally shot by two white men while he was out jogging on February 23.
Mr Mattingly said misinformation about the March 13 shooting spread rapidly and said city and police leaders should have acted more swiftly to dispel “false narratives” about the incident, including that police were at the wrong house and Ms Taylor was sleeping in her bed when she was shot.
He said he will likely leave the Louisville police department since he has reached the years of service needed for retirement.