LMPD detective fired for lying on Breonna Taylor search warrant application loses second employment appeal
A Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge upheld the firing of detective Joshua Jaynes, who Louisville Metro Police terminated in Jan. 2021 for lying on the search warrant application that led to the deadly, middle-of-the-night raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment.
Chief Judge Mitch Perry sided with the Police Merit Board, which ruled last June that LMPD was right to fire Jaynes for “untruthfulness.”
Jaynes wrote in the March 2020 warrant application that he “verified with a U.S. Postal Inspector” that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, a man police suspected of dealing drugs, received packages at her address. An internal investigation found, however, that Jaynes did not personally verify the information, instead relying on another officer’s word that proved to be false.
In appealing the Merit Board ruling to Circuit Court, Jaynes argued what he did was proper under law and there were numerous problems with the Board’s procedures. But Perry disagreed and dismissed the case.
“The Merit Board conducted a full and comprehensive hearing lasting three days,” Perry wrote in the order handed down last Wednesday. “It’s decision is neither arbitrary nor capricious, nor contrary to established law. Instead, it is thorough, well-reasoned, and amply supported by substantial evidence.”
Attorney Thomas Clay, who is representing Jaynes, argued in Circuit Court and at the three-day hearing that the former detective’s actions were proper under what’s called the “collective knowledge doctrine.” That legal principle allows officers to act on the knowledge of another officer when making a stop, search or arrest. Clay argued it also applies to this case, when Jaynes passed off information from another officer as his own.
Clay told WFPL News on Tuesday they plan to challenge the recent ruling in the Court of Appeals.
“I don’t believe he did anything wrong,” Clay said. “I believe that he’s a conscientious police officer who tried to do his job to the best of his ability and, for whatever reason, things didn’t go his way.”
Jaynes has up up to 30 days to appeal Perry’s ruling. If he is unsuccessful in the Court of Appeals, he could petition the Kentucky Supreme Court to intervene.
Other officers also appealing
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an EMT, was shot and killed in her hallway during the March 13, 2020, raid on her home. Investigators said Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot at police as they attempted to break open the door to her apartment. Walker later said did not hear the officers identify themselves and believed they were intruders. Cosgrove and two other officers fired nearly three dozen bullets in return.
It was Interim Police Chief Yvette Gentry who made the decision to fire Jaynes in Jan. 2021. In her testimony before the Merit Board last year, Gentry characterized the former detective’s actions in writing the warrant application as “turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes.’” She also called the charges of untruthfulness the type of policy violation “you don’t get a second chance to come back from.”
Throughout the Merit Board hearing, Clay attempted to portray the decision to fire Jaynes as political. He called Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to the stand and played a video of Fischer’s comments to a crowd of protesters in 2020. In the video, Fischer explained to the crowd what he believed would happen if the officers involved in the Taylor raid were fired.
“They will not go to jail,” he could be heard saying. “They will be fired. They will appeal that [and] they will be back on their job in one week, with back pay, with damages from the city because that’s how the law works.”
Clay accused Fischer of “pre-judging” the outcome and putting pressure on the Merit Board to uphold the officers’ terminations. Fischer argued he was defending the process and was referring to what would have happened if he had taken unilateral action without an investigation.
Both Gentry and Fischer denied the mayor was involved in the decision to fire Jaynes.
Two other detectives involved in the raid on Taylor’s apartment are also appealing their firings: Myles Cosgrove and Brent Hankison. The Police Merit Board upheld Cosgrove’s termination in a 5-2 decision late last year. He’s currently appealing that ruling in Circuit Court.
Hankison’s employment appeal was put on hold while he stood trial for felony wanton endangerment. Those charges stemmed from shots he fired through a covered patio door during the raid that passed through a wall and into an occupied neighboring apartment. Hankison was acquitted of the charges by a jury in March.
Mark Dobbins, who serves as legal counsel for the Police Merit Board, said Tuesday that dates have not yet been set for Hankison’s termination appeal.