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Louisville Police Officer Files Lawsuit Against Breonna Taylor's Boyfriend

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

When Louisville police raided Breonna Taylor's apartment, then shot and killed her, a police officer was also shot. That man has now filed a civil lawsuit against Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker. The officer claims that Walker, quote, "willingly or maliciously" shot him while officers were serving the no-knock warrant. Eleanor Klibanoff from member station WFPL has more.

ELEANOR KLIBANOFF, BYLINE: When plainclothes Louisville police entered Breonna Taylor's apartment in the early morning hours of March 13, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly was at the front of the group. Down the hallway, he saw Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker holding a gun. Here's Mattingly speaking on ABC last week.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JONATHAN MATTINGLY: He wasn't shooting at the ground a warning shot. He's pushed out with two hands, looking straight at me. We - I saw his gun. Our postures were the same looking at each other when he fired that shot.

KLIBANOFF: Walker fired one shot, striking Mattingly in the leg. Mattingly and two other officers returned fire - 32 shots, six of which struck Taylor, killing her. Walker told police later he believed they were intruders and filed a lawsuit seeking immunity from prosecution under Kentucky's stand your ground laws. But now Mattingly has filed a countersuit, arguing that Walker knew they were police and fired at them intentionally anyway, causing him trauma and mental anguish. The suit says Walker's conduct was, quote, "outrageous, intolerable and offends all accepted standards of decency and morality." Mattingly also wants the lawsuit against the city and the officers dropped because of qualified immunity, the idea that government officials can only be sued for violating rights that are clearly established in case law.

GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL: A police officer suing a civilian in court for emotional distress is unprecedented.

KLIBANOFF: Gloria Browne-Marshall teaches constitutional law at John Jay College at the City University of New York.

BROWNE-MARSHALL: Sgt. Mattingly wants to have it both ways. He wants to be shielded by qualified immunity and also bring an action as though he is a civilian individual who's been injured by another civilian.

KLIBANOFF: She said this could open the door to any government employee suing a civilian for mental anguish or distress caused by doing their job. Steve Romines represents Kenneth Walker. He said this countersuit is concerning to him on another front.

STEVE ROMINES: Kenny could be sued for defending himself in his own residence. Make no mistake that all lawful gun owners' rights are at risk, and that should scare everyone.

KLIBANOFF: Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer. The Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney dropped those charges in May but said there could be other charges against Walker once all of the investigations into Taylor's death are completed.

For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Klibanoff in Louisville.

(SOUNDBITE OF TYCHO'S "NO STRESS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.