A former Louisville police detective was acquitted of murder, manslaughter and reckless homicide Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a teenage drug suspect that stoked racial tensions in the city.
The former detective, McKenzie Mattingly, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. The jurors returned the partial verdict after more than eight hours of deliberations; the judge declared a mistrial on a separate charge of wanton endangerment after the jury was unable to reach agreement on that count.
Mattingly was charged with shooting 19-year-old Michael Newby three times in the back Jan. 3 during an undercover drug buy.
The trial had been closely watched in Louisville’s black community because Newby was the seventh black man killed by Louisville police since 1998. Mattingly is white.
Outside the courthouse, as he got into his vehicle, Newby’s stepfather, Jerry Bouggess, said: “There are murderers out here.”
Prosecutors, in an eleventh-hour turnaround, told jurors during closing arguments that they should not find Mattingly guilty of murder but convict him of a lesser charge.
“I do not think that is what he is guilty of,” said Scott Davis, an assistant prosecutor.
Mattingly’s attorney, Steve Schroering, said Mattingly feared for his life before he shot Newby.
“There is not one piece of evidence in this case that proves that McKenzie Mattingly was doing anything other than protecting himself,” Schroering said during his closing argument.
Mattingly told investigators that he believed Newby was trying to kill him, even though he never saw a weapon. He said the two struggled over his police-issued handgun when he tried to arrest Newby.
Newby was carrying a .45-caliber gun in his waistband the night of the shooting, police said. Prosecutors, however, said that Mattingly never mentioned that Newby had a gun and that officers did not know Newby was armed until after he was shot.
Mattingly was fired for violating the department’s use-of-force policy.