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Publisher expands on its decision not to distribute book by officer from Breonna Taylor raid

Breonna Taylor smiles while holding a certificate and flowers.
Breonna Taylor in an undated photo. One of the officers involved in her shooting is writing a book, which Simon & Schuster has refused to distribute.
(Courtesy of Taylor Family attorney Sam Aguiar)

The Louisville police officer who fired at Breonna Taylor after being shot during the deadly raid on Taylor’s apartment is writing a book, but it won’t be distributed as planned by publishing giant Simon & Schuster. On Friday, the publisher explained its decision to employees in an email, expanding on a Thursday statement and regretting any “distress or disruption” caused by the move.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and another officer fired shots that hit Taylor during the March 13, 2020, narcotics raid. Mattingly was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, died at the scene. No drugs were found in the apartment.

Mattingly’s book will be published by Tennessee-based Post Hill Press, The Courier Journal reported. The company website said it publishes “current events, Christian and conservative political books,” among other topics. It has a deal to have its books distributed by Simon & Schuster, which earlier Thursday indicated it could not refuse Post Hill titles.

But late Thursday, Simon & Schuster released a statement saying it would not be involved in Mattingly’s book.

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“Earlier today Simon & Schuster learned of plans by distribution client Post Hill Press to publish a book by Jonathan Mattingly,” the publishing house said in a statement. “We have subsequently decided not be involved in the distribution of this book.”

News of Mattingly’s book drew online criticism Thursday, including from Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott, a Democrat, who wrote on Twitter that “People love to profit off of Black pain and tragedy. It sells.”

In an email to all its employees Friday, Simon & Schuster President and CEO Jonathan Karp expanded on the company’s decision to cancel distribution of the book.

“We first became aware of the publishing deal with Mattingly through news reports, social media posts and press queries, beginning around 12:00pm,” Karp wrote in the email. “We had no prior knowledge of the book and had not been informed by our distribution partner that it was in the works. By last night we had decided that we could not distribute this book.”

Karp nonetheless acknowledged the difficulty of the decision. “We are mindful of the unsustainable precedent of rendering our judgment on the thousands of titles from independent publishers whose books we distribute to our accounts, but whose acquisitions we do not control,” he continued in the email.

In a statement to the Associated Press, a publicist for Post Hill Press said the company supports its authors’ free speech rights and that Mattingly “deserves to have his account of the tragic events heard publicly.”

Mattingly’s book is expected to be released in the fall. Other Post Hill Press authors include conservative commentator Dan Bongino and embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). Mattingly’s book will be titled “The Fight For Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy.”

Mattingly, 48, was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who said he fired a single shot after fearing an intruder was breaking into the apartment.

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Mattingly was recently reprimanded by Louisville’s police chief for a September email that was critical of department leadership and protesters. He remains in the department. Two other officers who fired their guns during the raid have been dismissed.

Concluding his letter to authors, Karp thanked employees for their feedback: “It has been a tumultuous year, marked by tragedy and injustice. We are grateful that throughout this time you have so openly and courageously shared with us your views and opinions and experiences. We will continue to seek your help and understanding as we strive to move forward as company.”


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