Simon & Schuster Says It Won’t Distribute Book by Officer Who Shot Breonna Taylor
Plans by Post Hill Press to publish the book, written by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, have drawn sharp criticism.,
Simon & Schuster said late Thursday night that it had scrapped plans to distribute a book by one of the Louisville police officers who shot Breonna Taylor during the botched drug raid last year that resulted in her death.
The book by the officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was wounded in the raid on March 13, 2020, is being published by Post Hill Press, a Tennessee-based house whose specialties include Christian and conservative political books.
The officer’s book, “The Fight for Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy,” was to be distributed by Simon & Schuster, which had said in a statement earlier Thursday that it had no editorial control over book releases by smaller publishing houses for which it provides third-party distribution, including Post Hill Press.
But hours later, after news about the book had drawn sharp criticism, Simon & Schuster reversed course on the project.
“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 in a statement. “We have subsequently decided not be involved in the distribution of this book.”
It was not immediately clear what effect Simon & Schuster’s decision would have on plans for the book’s publication.
A spokeswoman for Post Hill Press could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier, the spokeswoman, Kelsey Merritt, said the publisher supported the right to freedom of speech of all its authors.
“In the case of Sergeant 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,” Ms. Merritt said. “Post Hill Press is standing behind our decision to publish his story.”
The book deal was first reported by The Courier-Journal of Louisville, which said that it had learned of the project when Sergeant Mattingly contacted one of its staff photographers on Tuesday to seek permission to use a photo from the May 2020 protests in the city over Ms. Taylor’s death.
A lawyer for Sergeant Mattingly declined to comment on Thursday.
A lawyer for the family of Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot six times during the raid, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Representative Attica Scott, a Democratic state legislator from Louisville, assailed the book deal in a Twitter post on Thursday.
“People love to profit off of Black pain and tragedy,” she said. “It sells.”
None of the seven officers who participated in the raid, including Sergeant Mattingly, were directly charged in connection with Ms. Taylor’s death, which touched off nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism.
Three officers were fired for their roles in the raid, one of whom was charged with “wanton endangerment” for endangering Ms. Taylor’s neighbors with gunshots.
Sergeant Mattingly, who is still employed by the Louisville Police Department, was the first officer who entered Ms. Taylor’s apartment after the police broke down the door after midnight on March 13.
The officers had been executing a search warrant as part of a narcotics investigation and had said that they believed that one of two men who had been selling drugs had used her apartment to receive packages. Ms. Taylor had been dating that man on and off for several years but had recently severed ties with him, according to her family’s lawyer.
Sergeant Mattingly was shot in the leg by Kenneth Walker, who was Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend and had been in the apartment with her. Sergeant Mattingly fired at least one of the six shots that hit Ms. Taylor, but not the lethal bullet, according to an F.B.I. ballistics report.
Last fall, Sergeant Mattingly sued Mr. Walker for assault and battery, with his lawyer saying that he should be entitled to compensatory damages for the medical treatment, trauma, physical pain and mental anguish that he experienced as a result of the night Ms. Taylor died.
An imprint of Post Hill Press collaborated on a book in 2020 with Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump who is under investigation by the Justice Department over possible sex trafficking. The book, “Firebrand,” was also distributed by Simon & Schuster.