After Police in Bardstown, Kentucky, shot a man named John Kennedy Fenwick on Sunday, following a long and destructive car chase, the sheriff’s deputy wrestled the unarmed suspect out of the stolen vehicle. However, according to police reports, Fenwick attempted to disarm the deputy and shoot him.
In a press conference the following day, Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly was asked whether he was concerned by a potential backlash in the community.
The Sheriff responded candidly, eventually stating:
We do not want any trouble. We are glad that he is white, and we shouldn’t have to be worried about that.
Mattingly’s comments come at a time where there is widespread debate over the tactics used by law enforcement officials across the US. And Mattingly acknowledged the increased scrutiny the police have faced following the deaths of unarmed black men in New York City, North Charleston and Ferguson to name a few.
However, he seemed to insinuate the media were responsible for creating much of the controversy:
The media has not done a very good job of informing the public, and the public is not educated on how the system actually works.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, the sheriff explained he was surprised that people had gotten so worked up by his remarks, stating that he wasn’t sure how the community or media would have reacted if Fenwick had not been black.
Fenwick later apologised, stating:
Some people took that comment as being racist, and I had no intention of that coming across that way and I’m sorry if that comment bothered some people.
Fenwick’s comments are not racist, but his remarks certainly do seem out of touch, and appear to trivialise and exacerbate a serious issue – the profound lack of trust in law enforcement.