LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CN) — The attorney for Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend called a counterclaim filed by the Louisville police officer he shot during the fatal raid on Taylor’s apartment “baseless,” claiming Friday it is an attempt to intimidate his client.
Steven Romines, the attorney representing Kenneth Walker in a civil lawsuit against the officers involved in the shooting and the commonwealth of Kentucky, among others, said his client is entitled to defend himself against the officers.
“This is the latest in a cycle of police aggression, deflection of responsibility, and obstruction of the facts,” Romines said in a statement. “The counterclaim just brings it full circle. If Kenny can be sued for defending himself, make no mistake, all lawful gun owners’ rights are at risk. And that should scare everyone.”
He added, “We intend to defend Kenny – once again – from baseless charges intended to harm, intimidate, and cover up the events of March 13, 2020.”
Sergeant Johnathan Mattingly of the Louisville Metro Police Department was struck in the thigh and sustained injuries to his femoral artery during the execution of a warrant that led to Taylor’s death on March 13.
Walker fired the shot that struck Mattingly with a legally owned 9mm Glock handgun, and has maintained since the shooting that Mattingly and his fellow officers did not announce their presence before they burst into Taylor’s apartment.
Taylor, a 27-year-old black woman, was in bed when she was killed during the execution of the warrant, which was connected to her ex-boyfriend, who was the subject of a drug trafficking investigation.
Mattingly’s counterclaim was filed Thursday in Jefferson County Circuit Court as part of a civil suit filed by Walker in September.
Filed by attorney Kent Wicker of Dressman, Benzinger LaVelle in Louisville, the counterclaim lists three causes of action – assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress – and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Mattingly says the incident has caused him “severe trauma,” and called Walker’s decision to fire on the officers reckless.
“Walker’s conduct in shooting Mattingly is outrageous, intolerable, and offends all accepted standards of decency and morality,” the filing states.
Walker’s complaint names as defendants Mattingly, the other officers involved in the shooting, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the commonwealth of Kentucky, among others.
In the suit, Walker seeks immunity from prosecution under Kentucky’s “stand your ground” self-defense law as well as damages.
Walker announced the suit with a press conference on Sept. 1, reiterating that he and Taylor did not know police were at the apartment.
“Breonna and I did not know who was banging on the door,” he said, “but the police know what they did. The charges brought against me were meant to silence me and cover up Breonna’s murder. For her and those that I love, I can no longer remain silent.”
Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer but the charge was later dismissed.
Mattingly disputes Walker’s version of events in his counterclaim, and said he and the other metro police officers entered the apartment only “after nearly a minute of repeated knocking and announcing.”
The officers’ knocking is one of several disputed facts surrounding the case, with one neighbor having changed their story about whether police announced their presence, but Walker’s attorney said Kentucky law shields him from prosecution.
“Kenny Walker,” Romines said, “is protected by law under KRS 503.085 and is immune from both criminal prosecution and civil liability as he was acting in self-defense in his own home.”
The attorney added, “Even the most basic understanding of Kentucky’s stand your ground law and the ‘castle doctrine’ evidences this fact. One would think that breaking into the apartment, executing his girlfriend and framing him for a crime in an effort to cover up her murder would be enough for them.”
Allegations of a coverup have gained momentum in recent weeks, especially after a member of the grand jury convened by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron spoke out about the proceedings.
Following a lengthy investigation, Cameron declined to bring murder or manslaughter charges against any of the officers involved in Taylor’s death, and instead brought three counts of wanton endangerment against Detective Brett Hankison.
Those charges were related to shots fired by Hankison into neighboring apartments, and the grand juror who spoke out recently said the jury felt there should have been additional charges.
Taylor’s death sparked nationwide outrage and spurred protests in Louisville that have continued to the present day.
Her family settled a civil suit against the city of Louisville in mid-September for $12 million, while the settlement also included promises of police reform by the city.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.