Breonna Taylor Case: 2 Officers Fired Over Police Raid That Killed EMT
By Erin Donaghue, CBS News
The Louisville Metro Police Department has formally fired two of the officers involved in the March police raid that killed emergency medical worker Breonna Taylor. Louisville mayor Greg Fischer confirmed the firings Wednesday and CBS News obtained copies of the termination letters.
The department last week sent pre-termination letters to Detective Myles Cosgrove, who an FBI analysis determined fired the shot that killed Taylor, and Detective Josh Jaynes, who applied for the search warrant at Taylor's Louisville home. In the letter to Jaynes obtained by CBS News, Interim Police Chief Yvette Gentry said Jaynes was "not truthful" when he claimed he received information from a U.S. Postal Inspector that Taylor's ex-boyfriend had been receiving suspicious packages at Taylor's home.
The raid was linked to a drug investigation into the ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, who did not live there. Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend, said police did not announce themselves before they battered in the door and he fired a shot because he feared someone was trying to break in. Three officers including Cosgrove returned fire, killing Taylor. No drugs were found in the home.
Cosgrove was fired for violating the department's deadly force policy, according to a termination letter obtained by CBS News.
Another officer who opened fire, Brett Hankison, had already been fired from the force for "blindly" firing shots into Taylor's apartment from outside. He was charged criminally with endangering Taylor's neighbors when bullets flew into their unit. No one has been charged in Taylor's death. Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron said Cosgrove and another officer who opened fire, Sergeant Jon Mattingly, were justified in their actions because they were returning the shot fired by Walker.
Both Cosgrove and Jaynes will have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
In the termination letter, Gentry cited Cosgrove's statements to internal investigators in which he described seeing a "distorted shadowy mass" and "flashes of big light." Gentry said the statements made it clear that Cosgrove did not properly identify a threat, as department policy requires, before firing 16 shots.
"The shots you fired went in three different directions, indicating you did not verify a threat or have target acquisition," Gentry wrote. "In other words, the evidence shows that you fired wildly at unidentified subjects or targets located within an apartment."
Gentry wrote that Mattingly, who was shot in the thigh by Walker, "was able to identify and describe the individual whom he targeted as a threat and against whom he returned fire."
Gentry wrote in a Dec. 30 letter to Mattingly that he had been exonerated after an investigation into whether he violated the department's use of force and de-escalation policies.
In her letter to Cosgrove, Gentry wrote the detective failed to follow procedure when he didn't activate his body camera. Gentry said Cosgrove had attempted to explain his actions during a pre-termination meeting by referencing information about the effects an imminent threat can have on an officer's performance. But she wrote, "I cannot justify your conduct or in good conscience recommend anything less than termination."
Cosgrove's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBS News.
In a termination letter to Jaynes, Gentry wrote that Jaynes did not independently confirm with a U.S. postal inspector that Glover had been receiving packages at Taylor's home, as he claimed in a search warrant affidavit he filed with a judge.
"I acknowledge that you believe you prepared the search warrant in good faith," Gentry wrote. "However, you failed to inform the judge you had no contact with the U.S. Postal Inspector. Your sworn information was not only inaccurate, it was not truthful."
Thomas Clay, an attorney for Jaynes, confirmed the termination but couldn't provide more information. Last week, Clay disputed the allegations that Jaynes lied on the search warrant application.
The news of the firings came the same day the Fischer announced that Erika Shields, the former chief of the Atlanta Police Department, has been chosen as the next chief of the Louisville Metro police department. Shields will be the fourth person to lead the department since Taylor's death. She will be sworn in as chief on Jan. 19.
Some in the community took to social media to decry the selection of Shields, who stepped down from her position in Atlanta after one of her officers fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, during a June arrest in a Wendy's parking lot. The officer, Garrett Rolfe, was fired and charged with counts including felony murder.
Fischer said Shields stepped down from her position in Atlanta so the community there could heal, and described her as a leader committed to reform. Speaking Wednesday, Shields said the Louisville department is at a "crossroads" and believes it can become a model for other departments across the country. The department is undergoing a review of all police practices that's expected to be complete by the end of the month, reports CBS station WLKY.
"I commit to begin my work here with a focus on rebuilding community trust, trust that I believe was already eroding prior to Breonna Taylor's killing," Shields said.
This story was originally published by CBS News on Jan. 6 at 2:07 P.M.