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LMPD Merit Board upholds Myles Cosgrove's termination

Myles Cosgrove was fighting for his job after he was fired for his role in a raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment. Cosgrove fired the shot that ended Taylor's life.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After several days of hearings, the Louisville Metro Police (LMPD) Merit Board voted 5-2 Wednesday to uphold Myles Cosgrove's termination. Cosgrove was trying to get his job back after he was fired from the department earlier this year for his role in the death of Breona Taylor.

In his termination letter, former Interim LMPD Chief Yvette Gentry said Cosgrove did not properly identify a target when he fired 16 times into Taylor's Louisville apartment. He was the one who fired the fatal shot.

In violation of standard operating procedure, Cosgrove also failed to activate his body camera prior to executing the search warrant.

It's a decision Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney (D - District 7) agrees with.

"Tonight's decision should say to the public and to the officers of LMPD that policies and procedures are in place for a reason, and when policies and procedures are violated, then there's consequences,” McCraney said.

McCraney helped form the new civilian review board. She said it's all about following policy and giving due process, and she's glad the merit board did that.

"I feel like this is definitely a win for the community and this can provide hope that we are looking at policy being followed, that officers are going to be held accountable,” said Antonio Taylor, a member of the city's civilian review board.

Wednesday's hearing

Wednesday, the board heard from two final witnesses and closing arguments from LMPD and Cosgrove's attorneys. They then met in executive session to make a decision.

Final witnesses

The defense first called Col. LaVita Chavous, formerly of LMPD, who was an assistant chief at the time of the raid on Taylor's apartment. Chavous testified that she felt she was kept out of the loop during the PSU investigation into the incident. 

She also said, based on her review, she didn't believe Cosgrove should have been fired. 

Chavous added she heard a conversation between Mayor Greg Fischer and members of his staff that led her to believe he wanted Cosgrove, John Mattingly, Brett Hankinson and Joshua Jaynes gone. 

“I heard him say he wished he could fire him to the extent of if there was a way for the officers to be fired," she said. 

The defense also called Sgt. John Jawor, a former LMPD officer, to speak about LMPD training and policies. Jawor testified he believed Cosgrove followed LMPD guidelines when it came to "officer down" situations and serving warrants. 

He also said officers are now trained to fire until a threat is gone, so firing 16 times would not be unusual. Jawor said in cases where a bystander is struck, it doesn't necessarily mean an officer violated policy. 

"As horrible as it is someone moved into line of fire and it wasn't an intentional act," Jawor said.

Closing arguments 

Cosgrove's attorney Scott Miller spoke first during closing arguments. Miller argued LMPD has the burden for establishing Cosgrove violated policy. He said Cosgrove's attorneys don't have to prove he acted perfectly. 

Miller argued Cosgrove had a reasonable belief of a threat, and officers have to act on what they perceive.

"He was right," Miller said. "What he perceived was correct." 

Miller said policy doesn't say to what degree officers have to isolate or identify threats and no amount of training can prepare them for the most stressful situations. 

"This isn't training, this isn't a flashlight in your eyes," Miller said. 

Miller said Cosgrove wanted his job back as a matter of principle and honor. 

In their own closing statements, Brendan Daugherty for LMPD focused on Cosgrove's several interviews after the raid. Daugherty said in the initial interview, Cosgrove did not say he saw a muzzle flash, which has been the key element in establishing there was a threat. 

"Their defense hinges on the muzzle flash," he said. "If you don't believe he saw that, then this entire defense is meaningless." 

Daugherty argued Cosgrove did not attribute the muzzle flash as coming from the "shadowy figure" he saw in the doorway in his initial interview. 

Daugherty also fought back against arguments from Cosgrove's attorneys that interim Chief Gentry bowed to political pressure in firing Cosgrove. He said because John Mattingly was not fired, it showed interim Chief Gentry was making decisions based on the investigations.

See more from Cosgrove's previous hearings here.

Case Background

Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed on March 13, 2020, when officers executed a no-knock search warrant at her apartment as a part of a drug-trafficking investigation.

According to an arrest report, LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Detectives Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove entered Taylor's home and were met with gunfire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker shot Mattingly. The officers fired back, striking Taylor.

Taylor's death sparked more than 100 days of protests and demonstrations in Louisville, calling for justice and police reform.

Six months after the deadly shooting, Attorney General Daniel Cameron released the results of his office's investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor. Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove were "justified" in their use of force the night Taylor died, saying they were responding to Walker's shot.

In June, the board upheld the termination of Joshua Jaynes, who got the warrant for Taylor's apartment. Brett Hankison is the only officer facing criminal charges and is also appealing his termination. Sgt. Mattingly retired from the department in June.

Contact reporter Grace McKenna at gmckenna@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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