Diners at a Kentucky restaurant were outraged to see and hear what they believe was video footage showing the killing of Breonna Taylor at an event featuring John Mattingly, one of the officers involved in the 2020 raid, according to the local NAACP chapter and witnesses.
Patrons weren’t informed that a GOP women’s club was hosting the event at a Greek restaurant in Bowling Green on Tuesday evening and may have been exposed to graphic depictions of the raid that led to Taylor’s death, the Bowling Green-Warren County Branch of the NAACP said.
Two patrons tell CNN they heard audio clips of gunshots, sirens and general commotion while they sat at their dimly lit tables, but neither could say for certain whether these were videos of Taylor’s death.
Cayce Johnson tells CNN when she first walked into 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 whole 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 apartment on March 13, 2020, after Louisville police executing a search warrant used a battering ram to break the door down.
Believing the police were intruders, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III, fired one shot when officers broke through the door, CNN previously reported.
Mattingly suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, and Taylor was killed when the officers returned fire. Mattingly was never charged in connection with the incident and retired after he was put on administrative leave.
The only officer charged in the botched raid, Brett Hankison, was acquitted of wanton endangerment charges in March.
Mattingly has always defended his actions in the fatal exchange. CNN has reached out to Mattingly for comment regarding the incident at the restaurant this week and has not received a response.
“He went through everything, talked about the investigation and then played several tapes during his presentation,” Johnson tells CNN.
Another patron, Katelyn Jones, tells CNN she was unable to see what was happening upstairs, but the sound of police radio chatter, sirens and gunshots made it hard for her family to even carry out a conversation.
“Towards the end of our meal, the lights shut off and we heard police radio chatter and sirens on a recording. We heard the gunshots, too, and it was so loud and chaotic. It was really loud,” she explained.
Jones tells CNN that when her family showed their displeasure at the loud recording, the people attending the event upstairs started to shush them. Some men stared down at them with a “sour look on their faces,” she said. Pictures shown on the restaurant’s website appear to show the upper seating level of the restaurant as a mezzanine, partially visible from the lower level.
Both patrons believed a video was playing based on the low lighting in the restaurant.
“These patrons had to see and listen to graphic descriptions of the incident which killed Breonna Taylor because Mattingly was provided video equipment, a microphone, and a speaker and was able to 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 exposure, graphic and upsetting images while they were attempting to enjoy their meal.”
A number obtained from public phone records for the Greek restaurant where the event was held appeared to be disconnected. CNN has 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. Prior to the event, the Republican Women’s Club said in a statement that it invited Mattingly to speak at the event “to obtain a firsthand account” of the raid that resulted in Taylor’s death.
“These events may be controversial, however, we believe Sgt. Mattingly has the right to share his experience,” the group said in a statement to Spectrum News in Louisville. “Other individuals with firsthand experience relating to this case are welcome to request an opportunity to speak to our organization as well.”
Regarding the women’s group, Johnson said, “They have had no accountability in this. They took their Facebook page down and are just laying low.”
“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 [Mattingly] a platform.”
The NAACP said the event featuring Mattingly was canceled at its original venue due to its “controversial” nature but went ahead as planned at the Greek restaurant on the same night. The NAACP did not provide further information about the supposed cancellation from what it said was the “original venue.”
Protests over plans to stage the event featuring Mattingly also took place in Bowling Green Tuesday, according to reporting from CNN affiliates WBKO and WNKY.
CNN has reached out to Louisville police for comment on the reported use of video footage showing the killing of Taylor at the Kentucky restaurant.
CNN’s Zenebou Sylla and Kiely Westhoff contributed to this report