By Dylan T. Lovan, The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Family and friends of a former Louisville police detective
believe he was wrongly charged for fatally shooting an armed man during an undercover
But many civil rights activists and those in Louisville's black community and
say holding a white police officer accountable for the murder of a black man
is long overdue.
McKenzie Mattingly, a 31-year-old former Marine and five-year veteran of the
police department, goes on trial this week for the fatal shooting of 19-year-old
Michael Newby, who was shot three times in the back after an altercation during
a drug buy.
The Jan. 3 shooting reignited anger in a black community still upset over the
fatal shooting of a handcuffed man by a white officer a year before.
Newby was the seventh black man fatally shot by Louisville police in the past
five years, but Mattingly is the first officer facing criminal charges in any
of those cases.
Mattingly was indicted for murder and wanton endangerment in March and fired
a month later.
The shooting rallied Louisville's black community, one activist said.
"To them this was just totally out of order, and it's unacceptable to
them," said the Rev. Louis Coleman, who has led dozens of protests in front
of Louisville police headquarters in the past few years. With Newby's death,
more young people have joined the protests, he said.
"These young people know that getting shot in the back running away is
wrong," Coleman said.
Newby's death came just over a year after the December 2002 fatal shooting
of 50-year-old James Taylor. Police shot Taylor 11 times in an apartment after
he was handcuffed. Two white officers at the scene said Taylor, who was black,
lunged at them with a boxcutter knife. After the officers were cleared of criminal
charges by a grand jury, activists stepped up their protests, and Taylor's family
filed a civil suit against one of the officers.
In Mattingly's case, court records say Newby was carrying a small amount of
crack-cocaine, some marijuana, a .45-caliber handgun and a large amount of money
the night of the shooting. He was posthumously charged with drug trafficking,
assault and carrying a concealed deadly weapon, but the charges were dismissed.
One of Mattingly's close friends, who started a Web site to raise money and
support for the former officer, said his friend shouldn't be facing a murder
"There's so many hypocrisies here, it's unbelievable," said Lukas
Dwelly. He said his Web site had had 22,000 hits in eight months and scores
of responses from people upset that Mattingly was indicted for murder.
"You've got a guy who's put it on the line for 11 1/2 years ... that's
where the anger comes from," Dwelly said. He said his Web site has raised
about $35,000 on Mattingly's behalf.
The case has been covered extensively by the Louisville media and carried in
some national news outlets, prompting Mattingly's attorneys to ask that the
trial be moved to another town and out of the media spotlight. Jefferson Circuit
Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman denied that request in May, but left the door
open for Mattingly's attorneys to try again before the trial begins.
Prosecutors and Mattingly's attorney, Steve Schroering, have declined to comment
on the trial. Schroering has experience defending police officers. In June,
a jury cleared his client, a Liberty officer, of second-degree manslaughter
charges for fatally shooting a suspect.
Convincing a jury that a police officer committed intentional murder in an
on-duty shooting is a tough sell for prosecutors, according to one expert.
"It wasn't a premeditated thing like, 'I'm going to go out and find someone
to kill on duty today,"' said Tim Apolito, a former Ohio police officer
who is now a criminal justice professor at the University of Dayton.
Mattingly joined the Louisville police department in 1999 and was promoted
to narcotics detective in two years.
The late-night shooting happened near a liquor store in western Louisville
as Mattingly was attempting a drug buy with Newby and two other suspects.
Mattingly said he was robbed during the buy and told prosecutors that he feared
for his life before he fired, according to court records. Mattingly got out
of his vehicle to arrest Newby but the two struggled, Mattingly said in an interview
The officer's gun discharged once during the struggle, and Mattingly said he
thought he had been shot in the foot.
Newby "moved away, he was not trying to flee, he was trying to get a weapon
out, and I felt in very real fear ... for my life," Mattingly said during
questioning. "I thought, this guy is trying to get a gun out and he's gonna
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Mattingly fired four shots; three hit Newby in the back. The teen died the
next morning at a hospital.