Customers at a Kentucky restaurant were outraged after seeing and hearing what they believe to be a video showing the murder of Breonna Taylor at an event with John Mattingly, one of the officers involved in the 2020 attack, according to the local NAACP chapter and witnesses.
Diners were not told that a GOP women’s club was hosting the event at a Greek restaurant in Bowling Green on Tuesday night and may have been exposed to graphic depictions of the attack that led to Taylor’s death, the Bowling Green- Warren County Branch of the NAACP said.
Two customers told CNN they heard audio clips of gunshots, sirens and general commotion as they sat at their dimly lit desks, but neither could say for sure if they were videos of Taylor’s death.
Cayce Johnson told CNN that when she first entered the restaurant, she could see and hear the event upstairs, hosted by the Republican Women’s Club of South Central Kentucky.
“They had a sound system. It was being broadcast throughout the restaurant,” she said. “We could hear every word. And when you introduced John Mattingly, my jaw dropped.
Mattingly was the first officer to enter Taylor’s apartment on March 13, 2020, after Louisville police, executing a search warrant, used a battering ram to break down the door.
Believing the police to be an intruder, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, fired a shot when officers broke down the door, CNN previously reported.
Mattingly was shot in the leg and Taylor was killed when officers returned fire. Mattingly was never charged in connection with the incident and retired after he was placed on administrative leave.
The only officer charged in the botched hit, Brett Hankison, was acquitted of the endangerment charges in March.
Mattingly always defended his actions in the fatal exchange. CNN reached out to Mattingly for comment on the incident at the restaurant this week and did not receive a response.
“He went through everything, talked about the investigation and then played several tapes during his presentation,” Johnson told CNN.
Another patron, Katelyn Jones, told CNN she couldn’t see what was going on upstairs, but the sound of police radio chatter, sirens and gunfire made it difficult for her family to even talk.
“At the end of the meal, the lights went out and we heard police radio chatter and sirens on a recording. We also heard the gunshots, and it was really loud and chaotic. It was really loud,” she explained.
Jones told CNN that when his family voiced their displeasure with the loud recording, people upstairs at the event began to silence them. Some men looked at them with a “sour look on their faces,” she said. The photos shown on the restaurant’s website appear to show the upper floor of the restaurant as a mezzanine level, partially visible from the lower floor.
Both customers believed that a video was playing based on the dim lighting in the restaurant.
“These diners had to see and hear graphic descriptions of the incident that killed Breonna Taylor because Mattingly was provided with video equipment, a microphone and speaker and could be heard throughout the restaurant,” the NAACP said.
“It is beyond reprehensible to subject anyone, let alone children and customers of African-American descent, to such indecent, graphic and disturbing imagery while trying to enjoy their meal.”
A number obtained from the public telephone records of the Greek restaurant where the event was held appeared to be disconnected. CNN reached out to the restaurant via an online form but has yet to hear back.
CNN also reached out to the South Central Kentucky Republican Women’s Club for comment. Prior to the event, the Republican Women’s Club said in a statement that it invited Mattingly to speak at the event “to get a first-hand account” of the attack that resulted in Taylor’s death.
“These events may be controversial, however, we believe that Sgt. Mattingly is entitled to share his experience,” the group said in a statement to Spectrum News in Louisville. “Others with first-hand experience relating to this case may also request an opportunity to speak with our organization.”
Regarding the women’s group, Johnson said: “They had no responsibility for this. They took down their Facebook page and are just hiding.”
“They need to apologize first and foremost and they need to apologize to Breonna Taylor’s family,” Johnson said.
“I want accountability from this group,” she continued. “They give powerful people platforms and they need to explain to the community and Breonna Taylor’s family why they gave him platforms. [Mattingly] a platform.”
The NAACP said the event featuring Mattingly was canceled at its original venue due to its “controversial” nature, but proceeded as planned at the Greek restaurant the same night. The NAACP did not provide further information about the alleged cancellation of what it said was the “original location”.
Protests over plans to host the event with Mattingly also erupted in Bowling Green on Tuesday, according to reports by CNN affiliates WBKO and WNKY.
CNN has reached out to Louisville police for comment on their reported use of video footage showing Taylor’s murder at the Kentucky diner.