Diners at a Kentucky restaurant were outraged after seeing and hearing video footage they believe showed the killing of Breonna Taylor at an event involving John Mattingly, one of the officers involved in the 2020 raid, according to the local NAACP chapter and witnesses.
Patrons were not informed that a GOP women’s club was hosting Tuesday night’s event at a Greek restaurant in Bowling Green and may have been exposed to graphic depictions of the robbery that led to Taylor’s death, the Bowling Green-Warren County branch of the NAACP said .
Two guests told CNN they heard audio clips of gunshots, sirens and general commotion while seated at their dimly lit tables, but no one could say for sure if those 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 broadcast throughout the restaurant,” she said. “We could hear every word. And when the lady introduced John Mattingly, my jaw dropped.”
Mattingly was the first officer to enter Taylor’s home on March 13, 2020 after Louisville police used a battering ram to break down the door while executing a search warrant.
Believing the police to be an intruder, Taylor’s friend, Kenneth Walker III, fired a shot as officers burst through the door, CNN previously reported.
Mattingly sustained a gunshot wound to the leg and Taylor was killed when officers returned fire. Mattingly was never charged in connection with the incident and retired after being placed on administrative leave.
The only officer charged in the botched raid, Brett Hankison, was acquitted of endangerment in March.
Mattingly has always defended his actions in the fatal exchange of blows. CNN reached out to Mattingly this week for comment on the incident at the restaurant and has received no 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 that she couldn’t see what was happening upstairs, but the sound of police radio chatter, sirens and gunfire made it difficult for her family to even have a conversation.
“Towards the end of our meal, the lights went out and we heard police radios and sirens on a recording. We also heard the gunshots and it was so loud and chaotic. It was really loud,” she explained.
Jones told CNN that people attending the event upstairs began silencing her when her family expressed their displeasure at the loud recording. Some men stared at her with “sour expressions,” she said. Images shown on the restaurant’s website appear to show the upper seating level of the restaurant as a mezzanine level, partially visible from the lower level.
Both guests believed that a video was playing due to the poor lighting in the restaurant.
“These guests were required to see and hear graphic descriptions of the incident that killed Breonna Taylor because video equipment, a microphone and a speaker were provided to Mattingly and could be heard throughout the restaurant,” the NAACP said.
“It is beyond reprehensible to subject anyone, let alone African American children and customers, to such indecent depictions, graphic and disturbing images while trying to enjoy their food.”
A number from public phone records for the Greek restaurant where the event took place appeared to be broken. CNN reached out to the restaurant through an online form, but has yet to receive a response.
CNN has also reached out to the Republican Women’s Club of South Central Kentucky for comment. Before the event, the Republican Women’s Club said in a statement that it had invited Mattingly to speak at the event “to get a first-hand account” of the crackdown that led to Taylor’s death.
“These events may be controversial, but we believe Sgt. Mattingly has a right to share his experiences,” the group said in a statement to Spectrum News in Louisville. “Other people with first-hand experience related to this case are welcome to request the opportunity to speak to our organization as well.”
Referring to the women’s group, Johnson said: “They had no responsibility in that regard. They shut down their Facebook page and are just keeping a low profile.”
“They have to apologize first of all, and they have to apologize to Breonna Taylor’s family,” Johnson said.
“I want this group to be accountable,” she continued. “They give platforms to powerful people and they have to explain to the community and to Breonna Taylor’s family why they gave it [Mattingly] a platform.”
The NAACP said the event, which featured Mattingly at its original venue, was canceled due to its “controversial” nature, but went ahead the same night as scheduled at the Greek restaurant. The NAACP gave no further information about the alleged cancellation of what it described as the “original venue.”
Protests against plans to host the event with Mattingly were also taking place in Bowling Green, according to reports from CNN affiliates WBKO and WNKY on Tuesday.
CNN has reached out to the Louisville Police Department for comment on the reported use of video footage showing the killing of Taylor at the Kentucky restaurant.