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LMPD Plan To Fire Officers Renews Calls For Charges In Breonna Taylor Case

J. Tyler Franklin

A lawyer for Breonna Taylor’s family welcomed the news that two more Louisville police officers are likely to be fired in connection with Taylor’s fatal shooting on March 13 — and he’s renewing calls that they face criminal charges.

Benjamin Crump, a nationally-recognized civil rights attorney, called for Louisville Metro Police detectives Joshua Jaynes and Myles Cosgrove to be held criminally liable for their roles in the Taylor shooting: Jaynes acquired the warrant that led officers to her door, and Cosgrove fired what the FBI described as the fatal shot.

Both have been on paid leave for months, and received letters Tuesday from interim chief Yvette Gentry informing them of LMPD’s intent to fire them.

Jaynes is accused of falsifying parts of the affidavit for that warrant, while Cosgrove is accused of violating use of force policies and failing to use a body camera, according to the Courier Journal.

“By including false information in a warrant affidavit, Det. Jaynes committed perjury and should be arrested and charged for breaking his oath as the affiant,” Crump said in a statement. “Likewise, Det. Cosgrove recklessly opened fire into Breonna’s home with a complete disregard for human life, never identifying or acquiring a specific target before shooting and killing Breonna Taylor.”

Thomas Clay, a lawyer for Jaynes, said this client did nothing wrong — even though Jaynes admitted some of the language in his sworn affidavit claiming the postmaster confirmed Taylor was receiving suspicious packages was “incorrect.” Clay said his client provided sufficient evidence to support the warrant because he was acting on information from his colleague, a trusted source.

Both Jaynes and Cosgrove will have administrative hearings with the police chief on Jan. 4.

“I think the outcome has already been pre-determined,” Clay said. “I think Det. Jaynes is going to be terminated. And we’re prepared to do what needs to be done in order to appeal that decision.”

A lawyer for Cosgrove declined to comment.

Taylor was killed in an after-midnight raid that was part of a larger narcotics investigation focused on her ex-boyfriend, a suspected drug dealer. When police forced their way into her apartment, her boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired a single shot at them, later saying he believed they were intruders. Three officers shot back, killing Taylor, who was 26 and unarmed.

Investigators never found anything illegal in Taylor’s apartment.

One of the officers who fired his weapon — Brett Hankison — was fired in June. The investigation showed he shot from outside the apartment; none of his bullets hit Taylor, but some traveled into a neighboring apartment. He was later the only person indicted by a Louisville grand jury following the state’s investigation.

Hankison faces charges of wanton endangerment for firing into the neighboring apartment. No officers were charged directly for Taylor’s killing.

If Jaynes and Cosgrove are fired, the only officer deeply involved with the case and still on the job will be Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot in the leg during the raid. His attorney said Tuesday his status hasn’t changed, and he’s still on administrative reassignment.

The potential firings of Cosgrove and Jaynes follow months of protest and cries for justice. Taylor’s death sparked outrage in Louisville and across the country as protesters and celebrities called for the officers involved in the raid to be arrested.

“If they was fired early on, that would have saved the city a lot of time, a lot of money,” said  Shameka Parrish-Wright, a leader in Louisville’s protest movement. “That would have saved us a lot of trauma, a lot of sacrifices that we made to be out there in those streets for now 217 days,” she said.

Parrish-Wright said firing the officers is the right thing to do, but the fact that it took so long sends a message about accountability.

Gentry, LMPD’s interim chief, made the call based on findings of an internal investigation into policy violations by the Public Standards Unit. A separate internal investigation earlier this year by the Public Integrity Unit did not find Jaynes or Cosgrove had committed criminal acts.

A grand juror who heard the state’s case told WFPL News that the move to fire Jaynes and Cosgrove makes him feel vindicated.

He is one of three grand jurors who took the unusual step of breaking secrecy to speak publicly about the case presented by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who said grand jurors agreed with not charging anyone for killing Taylor. The three grand jurors say they not only disagreed —  they say they asked for more charges, and the prosecutors refused.

He said these officers were wrong in their actions and should be off the force.

“They skipped over a lot of protocols. And we don’t need that,” he said. “Now, if other charges, criminal charges come up, that’d be great. But you can’t walk a mile until you have taken that first step.”

He said if the officers are fired, it will be a good step toward the slow rebuilding of trust between Louisville police and residents.

Like many others, the grand juror is also keen to see what the ongoing federal investigation into the incident produces. The FBI’s Louisville field office has been looking into the shooting since May — LMPD’s investigation into Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, what happened the night she was killed and what’s happened since. When complete, prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division will decide how to move forward.

Jaynes’ acquisition of the warrant, which came about 12 hours before the raid on Taylor’s apartment, is a focus of that investigation. The warrant was approved as a “no-knock,” though officers insist they changed plans and knocked before busting Taylor’s door open. The lack of body camera footage means it’s unclear, but most neighbors told investigators they didn’t hear any knocking.

Jaynes was placed on paid leave in June due to questions related to how he got the warrant, which was based on the premise that Taylor might have drugs or money related to her ex-boyfriend’s alleged narcotics deals.

In a November court filing, Jaynes admitted it was not correct to say a United States Postal Inspector confirmed certain packages were being sent to Taylor’s apartment, though he called the wording an “honest mistake.” An investigative file released by LMPD in October showed Jaynes never spoke to the postmaster directly. Instead, he got information from Sgt. Mattingly, who asked connections at the Shively Police Department for help getting details from the postal inspector.

Jaynes told investigators that he got the detail about Taylor’s packages from Mattingly. But Det. Mike Kuzma of the Shively Police Department told investigators that didn’t come from him, because he told Mattingly he checked with the postal inspector and learned that Taylor wasn’t getting packages.

The FBI’s investigation will look into those details, while Cameron’s investigation focused on the shooting. But the process is slow-going, according to Tim Beam, the chief division counsel for FBI Louisville.

“Our investigation is continuing and has unfortunately been hampered by the limitations on using federal grand jury due to COVID issues. Regardless of these inconveniences, we remain committed to determining whether federal laws were broken, and we will pursue those issues no matter how long it takes,” Beam said.

The FBI cannot convene a grand jury before the end of February, which is when the current moratorium instituted by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky expires. That means it will probably be springtime before the FBI can utilize an important fact-finding tool: grand jury subpoenas to compel witness interviews.

What those interviews produce will affect how much longer the FBI investigates and, in turn, how much longer it will be before any officers may face federal criminal charges.<--break->

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