Simon & Schuster, one of the largest publishing companies in America, announced Thursday night on Twitter it will not distribute a book written by a Louisville Metro Police officer who took part in the raid that left Breonna Taylor dead in her apartment.
Post Hill Press, a Tennessee-based publisher, confirmed Thursday morning it is publishing a book by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, The Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, first reported.
Simon & Schuster distributes books by writers published by Post Hill Press, but it will not do so with this book.
“Like much of the American public, earlier today Simon & Schuster learned of plans by distribution client Post Hill Press to publish a book by Jonathan Mattingly,” the company’s statement said. “We have subsequently decided not to be involved in the distribution of this book.”
Mattingly fired six rounds during the March 13, 2020, attempted search of Taylor’s apartment, shooting Taylor. He had been shot in the thigh moments earlier by Taylor’s boyfreind, Kenneth Walker, who later said he thought intruders were breaking in.
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Mattingly required emergency surgery to repair his severed femoral artery. Another officer on scene, Myles Cosgrove, fired the fatal shot, the FBI concluded.
The Courier Journal learned of Mattingly’s book — “The Fight For Truth: The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy” — when he contacted a staff photographer Tuesday seeking permission to use a photo from May 2020 protests.
Sam Aguiar, a Louisville attorney who represented Taylor’s mother in a civil suit against the city and LMPD, thanked Simon & Schuster on Facebook for its announcement.
“This book will be a joke and do nothing to expose all the things he’s been hiding,” Aguiar had written earlier in the day.
A MoveOn.org petition demanding Simon & Schuster cancel the deal generated more than 20,000 signatures, and the social media backlash to news of Mattingly’s book was swift.
Post Hill Press’ website says it focuses on the areas of “pop culture, business, self-help, health, current events, Christian, and conservative political books.”
Some of its most high-profile authors include right-wing favorites Dan Bongino, Laura Loomer and embattled GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz.
Authors and activists took to social media to bash Simon & Schuster, which is no stranger to controversy.
“Simon & Schuster really embraces villainy,” tweeted Roxane Gay, a best-selling author and professor.
“This is absolutely disgusting, and @simonschuster (why is it ALWAYS S&S?) should be ashamed of itself,” wrote Celeste Ng, a best-selling novelist.
At one point, the publishing company was going to release a book by Republican U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, but later dropped his book after the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January. In a statement, the company said the Missouri conservative played a “role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”
The company also just announced last week a two-book deal with former Vice President Mike Pence.
According to a November announcement, a Simon & Schuster brand also has a deal with Tamika Mallory of Until Freedom, an activist group that has taken up Taylor’s cause and frequently been on the ground in Louisville.
A Simon & Schuster post from May 2020 quickly surfaced among the backlash, in which the company declared Black lives matter.
“Black stories matter,” it reads. “We stand against racism and violence. We stand with Black authors, illustrators, readers, colleagues, educators, librarians, creators — now, and always.”
“Y’all really feel that way?” asked Louisville activist and writer Hannah Drake. “Breonna Taylor mattered. Guess y’all forgot that.”
She also encouraged Black writers to post their books that Simon & Schuster could distribute instead of Mattingly’s book.
“Distribution matters,” she wrote. “I could write a million books. But a company DISTRIBUTING the book makes it matter. @simonschuster ‘claimed’ they stood with Black people, Black creatives and said our stories matter. They lied.”
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