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2 Louisville Police Officers Connected To Breonna Taylor's Death Have Been Fired

Emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police in her home in March. Her name has become a rallying cry in protests against police brutality and social injustice.
Taylor family
Emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police in her home in March. Her name has become a rallying cry in protests against police brutality and social injustice.

Updated at 3:15 a.m. ET

A pair of Louisville, Ky., police officers connected to the raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment last year were formally terminated from the force, a spokesperson for the Louisville Metro Police Department confirmed Wednesday.

The termination letters, signed by interim Police Chief Yvette Gentry, said Detective Joshua Jaynes, who secured the warrant for the March 13 raid on Taylor's home, and Detective Myles Cosgrove, who federal and Louisville investigators said fired the shot that killed the 26-year-old Taylor, were dismissed from the force as of Tuesday.

Each has 10 days to appeal the police department's decision.

The announcement of the terminations comes the same day Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer formally announced the hiring of Erika Shields, who previously led the Atlanta Police Department, as LMPD's next police chief.

During a Wednesday morning press conference, Fischer described Shields, who will be sworn in as Louisville's top cop on Jan. 19, as a "well-respected visionary" adding that she was the unanimous choice of the city's diverse selection committee.

He also alluded to the fact that she comes to Louisville with a keen understanding of a police force and a community in search of a path forward. Shields left her post in Atlanta in the aftermath of the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in June.

"And when tragedy happened in her city, she put her city before herself, stepping down, so she would not be a distraction, as her community worked to heal," Fischer said.

The two officers involved in the Atlanta incident are facing criminal charges stemming from the encounter. The officer who shot and killed Brooks has been terminated from the Atlanta Police Department.

"I understand there is much healing to do across the country and here in Louisville," Shields said Wednesday, addressing residents of the city for the first time.

Shields, who is white, spoke of her quarter-century working her way up the ranks in Atlanta and how it informed her about present-day challenges facing police interactions with communities of color.

"Policing to me, and race, to me, [are] not mere training blocks of instruction or a work rule in a disciplinary manual," Shields said. "The last year has shown that we have a long way to go."

New details in Cosgrove and Jaynes termination letters

In the termination letters to Cosgrove and Jaynes, Gentry, the interim LMPD chief, said each had violated department policy.

According to the documents, Jaynes ran afoul of department protocols in connection with the preparation of the search warrant and truthfulness.

"The evidence in this case revealed a sustained untruthfulness violation based on information included in an affidavit completed by you and submitted to a judge," the letter reads. "It is my decision to terminate your employment based on that evidence."

For Cosgrove, LMPD said he violated department procedures including on the use of deadly force and failing to operate his officer-worn body camera.

LMPD also found that Cosgrove fired 16 shots into Taylor's apartment, striking her twice.

"The shots you fired went in three different directions, indicating you did not verify a threat or have target acquisition," the letter to Cosgrove states.

"In other words, the evidence shows that you fired wildly at unidentified subjects or targets located within the apartment."

Both Cosgrove and Jaynes have been on paid leave in the months since the shooting and in late December received notification from Gentry that LMPD intended to sever their employment.

Earlier this week a lawyer for Jaynes told Louisville NPR member station WFPL his client's dismissal from LMPD would not come as a surprise.

"I think the outcome [has] already been pre-determined," Thomas Clay said to WFPL. "I think Detective Jaynes is going to be terminated. And we're prepared to do what needs to be done in order to appeal that decision."

Dispute over charging decisions

None of the officers who discharged their service weapons during the raid faces criminal charges for Taylor's death.

Another member of the search party, former Officer Brett Hankison, was terminated from LMPD in June.

A Kentucky grand jury indicted Hankison in September on three counts of wanton endangerment for his role in shooting into an apartment unit near Taylor's.

When Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general, announced Hankison's indictment during a press briefing on Sept. 23, he said that Cosgrove, who fired the fatal shot, and another officer, Jonathan Mattingly, "were justified in their use of force."

Both Cosgrove and Mattingly fired into Taylor's apartment after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, first fired upon them.

Walker has maintained that the couple did not hear officers announce themselves before entering the apartment. He also said he mistook them for intruders. Walker, a licensed gun owner, said he fired a warning shot, which struck Mattingly in the leg.

That prompted officers to return fire.

In October, Mattingly filed a counter-suit against Walker, saying that Walker committed assault, battery and intentional emotional distress. Earlier that month, Mattingly sat down for an interview with ABC News and the Courier Journal where he claimed that the Taylor shooting was "not a race thing like people try to make it to be."

Breonna Taylor's name became a rallying cry, along with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Jacob Blake and other Black Americans who were killed or seriously injured by law enforcement last year. Those encounters sparked a national reckoning on race and social inequities in the United States and internationally.

One of the grand jurors in the Taylor case said the move to terminate additional officers made him feel "vindicated," according to WFPL. The grand juror, who has remained anonymous, has joined two others in coming forward to raise concerns about how Cameron, the attorney general, presented the case.

Cameron had said grand jurors agreed with not charging any of the officers for the killing of Taylor.

However, the three grand jurors have said they not only disagreed with Cameron's characterization, but also said they pressed for more charges to be considered, but those requests were rebuffed by prosecutors.

You can read the full Louisville Metro Police Department Final Action report below.

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Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.