A vigil for Breonna Taylor on 13 March in Washington DC to mark the fiSimon & Schuster has said that it will not be distributing a book by one of the police officers who shot Breonna Taylor, after a small publisher whose books are distributed through S&S announced the book to widespread criticism.
The Fight for Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy is by Sgt Jonathan Mattingly, a Louisville, Kentucky, officer who shot Taylor and was wounded in the raid on her home in March last year. The book is being published by Post Hill Press, a small independent that specialises in “conservative politics” and Christian titles, and home to authors including far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer and the embattled Republican congressman Matt Gaetz.
Mattingly is still employed by the Louisville Police Department and was the first officer to enter Taylor’s apartment after midnight on 13 March 2020, as part of a narcotics investigation. Mattingly fired at least one of the six shots that hit Taylor, according to an FBI ballistics report, but not the one that killed her.
He was also shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker. After Walker filed a lawsuit against him, Mattingly filed a countersuit for assault and battery, saying Walker’s actions had caused him “severe trauma, mental anguish and emotional distress”.
In September, he was cleared by a grand jury, alongside another officer who fired the lethal shot, Detective Myles Cosgrove. A third, former Detective Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment, for firing shots that went into Taylor’s neighbour’s apartment.
Earlier on Thursday, S&S said in a statement that it had no editorial control over titles released by the smaller publishers for which it provides distribution. Hours later, after widespread criticism and campaigns to complain to S&S head office, the publisher issued a second statement distancing itself from Mattingly’s book.
“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,” the publisher said. “We have subsequently decided not be involved in the distribution of this book.”
Mattingly’s lawyer declined to comment to the New York Times on Thursday.
How this may affect the book’s publication remains unclear. Before S&S announced that it would no longer distribute the book, a spokeswoman for Post Hill Press, Kelsey Merritt, said the publisher supported freedom of speech for all of its authors.
“In the case of Sgt Mattingly, the mainstream media narrative has been entirely one-sided related to this story and we feel that he deserves to have his account of the tragic events heard publicly, as well,” she told the New York Times. “Post Hill Press is standing behind our decision to publish his story.”
Louisville newspaper the Courier-Journal broke the story after Mattingly contacted one of its staff photographers earlier in the week to ask if he could use a photo of protests over Taylor’s death in the city in May.