The Margin: Simon & Schuster says it won’t distribute book by officer involved in Breonna Taylor’s death


Simon & Schuster is booking it from this controversial memoir. 

The publisher drew outrage from some readers on social media on Thursday after news broke that one of the Louisville police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor had signed a book deal with Post Hill Press, which is a distribution client of Simon & Schuster.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was one of two officers who fired the gunshots that hit Taylor during the fatal March 2020 narcotics raid on her apartment (no drugs were found) plans to write a book titled “The Fight for Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy.” The drug raid was controversial as the police had a “knock and announce” warrant, but broke down Taylor’s door with a battering ram. Also they were investigating the apartment for signs of drug trafficking while investigating Taylor’s ex-boyfriend.

The announcement drew criticism online, with Kentucky Rep. Attica Scott tweeting that, “People love to profit off of Black pain and tragedy. It sells.” 

And critics including “2 Dope Queens” star Phoebe Robinson called out Simon & Schuster for contradicting the “Black Lives Matter” sentiments it had shared on social media last year. “Dear @simonandschuster, Fix this mess you’ve made. It’s embarrassing and revolting,” Robinson wrote on Instagram on Thursday, while sharing screen grabs of the publisher’s past tweets that made statements like, “We stand against racism and violence.” 

Related: Companies declared ‘Black lives matter’ last year, and now they’re being asked to prove it

Simon & Schuster responded on Thursday night by tweeting a statement declaring it had just learned of the plans to distribute Mattingly’s book. “We have subsequently decided not to be involved in the distribution of this book.” 

This isn’t the first controversial project that the publisher has pulled this year. Simon & Schuster also announced it was nixing the June publication of Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) book “The Tyranny of Big Tech” after he was accused of helping incite the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol when a photo of him greeting protesters outside the Capitol with a raised fist went viral.

Read more: Josh Hawley rebuked by fellow Republicans and home-state newspapers — and even his political mentor

“As a publisher, it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: at the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Sen. Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,” Simon & Schuster said in a statement at the time.

Sgt. Mattingly was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker III during the March 13, 2020 raid, and sued Walker last October for battery, assault and emotional distress. This countersuit came after Walker filed a $10.5 million lawsuit against members of the Louisville Metro Police Department, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Louisville/Jefferson County metro government for false arrest, assault and malicious prosecution, among other claims.

Mattingly was recently reprimanded by his police chief for sending an email that stated he and other officers “did the legal, moral and ethical thing” when raiding Taylor’s apartment.

Mattingly remains employed by the police department. Two officers who fired their guns the night of the raid have been dismissed, the AP reports. And one of them, Brett Hankison, is facing wanton endangerment charges for putting Taylor’s neighbors in danger.

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