Breonna Taylor: Police officer who fired fatal shot appeals for job back

‘Despite your years of service, I cannot justify your conduct nor in good conscience recommend anything less than termination,’ former chief writes in letter to detective

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 09 November 2021 16:13
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Related video: Bodycamera footage from the Breonna Taylor shooting

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The Louisville, Kentucky police officer who the FBI says fired the shot that killed Breonna Taylor is appealing to get his job back after being removed from the force.

Myles Cosgrove, a former detective, spent 15 years with the Louisville Police Department and is going in front of the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board to appeal his removal following the shooting on 13 March 2020.

The hearings, which start on Tuesday, will take place over five days dispersed in November and December, after which the members of the board will decide if his 5 January firing by former Louisville interim police Chief Yvette Gentry was correct, The Louisville Courier Journal reported.

Mr Cosgrove was fired along with another officer present at the shooting, and he submitted his appeal on 10 January. Detective Joshua Jaynes lost his appeal, as did the additional seven officers who have appealed their firings since 2015.

The raid on Ms Taylor’s home was part of a larger drugs investigation. The board found that the firing of Mr Jaynes was correct because he lied on an affidavit to get a search warrant to enter Ms Taylor’s residence, WLKY reported.

Mr Cosgrove was part of the group of seven police officers in plainclothes who executed the raid at 12.40am at Ms Taylor’s apartment. Police used a battering ram to break down the door, at which point Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot from his legally owned handgun, hitting Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly.

Mr Walker has said that he was unaware that it was the police who was breaking into the apartment. The police have said that they announced their arrival. Following Mr Walker’s use of his handgun, Mr Cosgrove discharged his weapon 16 times. Mr Mattingly fired six times and fellow detective Brett Hankison used his firearm 10 times.

Ms Taylor, who was unarmed, was struck six times.

Chief Yvette Gentry wrote in a pre-termination letter that Mr Cosgrove neglected to “properly identify a target”, instead firing in “three distinctly different directions”.

Mr Cosgrove, along with a lawyer, took part in a hearing before his firing, but the chief decided to proceed with the determination.

“I considered the information you provided at our meeting concerning ‘force science,’ that is, the effect of serious physical threat on an officer’s performance,” Ms Gentry said in her letter to Ms Cosgrove, The Journal reported. “However, despite your years of service, I cannot justify your conduct nor in good conscience recommend anything less than termination.”

Mr Cosgrove’s lawyer Scott Miller argued in the notice of appeal that the former detective was not required to wear a body camera because he was a narcotics officer. He also noted that Mr Cosgrove’s violation was “not consistent with the [standard operating procedures] as written at the time”.

“This is underscored by the fact that another officer who discharged his weapon after being confronted with the same threat identified by Detective Cosgrove was exonerated of any violation of the department’s use of deadly force policy, while Detective Cosgrove has been terminated,” Mr Miller wrote concerning Mr Mattingly, who has not been disciplined.

Mr Cosgrove told Louisville Metro investigators on the Public Integrity Unit during an internal investigation that he was “overwhelmed” by the mix of darkness and white flashes of light.

He said he experienced tunnel vision as well as hearing loss and muteness, WLKY reported.

The merit board consists of five members who are appointed by the mayor and approved by the Metro Council. Two police officers elected for terms lasting two years also serve on the board during disciplinary cases.

If the board agrees with Mr Cosgrove’s appeal, they could recommend that he be suspended or demoted, instead of fired. If the board rejects the appeal, Mr Cosgrove would be able to move on to circuit court.

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