Officer connected to Breonna Taylor case fights termination

Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2020

At least one Kentucky police officer connected to the fatal shooting of a Black woman, Breonna Taylor, is fighting a police move to terminate his employment.

An attorney for Louisville Metro Police detective Joshua Jaynes told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his client hasn’t done anything wrong and shouldn’t be disciplined in connection with a police raid in March that led to Taylor’s death. The shooting of the 26-year-old woman in her Louisville home sparked months of protests there amid national protests over racial injustice and police misconduct.

“I’m very troubled by the chief’s actions here, and I hope that we can challenge those proposed actions successfully,” attorney Thomas Clay said.

A pretermination hearing for Jaynes, originally set for Thursday, has been rescheduled for Jan. 4, Clay said.

The police department sent pretermination letters to Jaynes and Officer Myles Cosgrove, news outlets reported Tuesday. Jaynes sought the no-knock search warrant that led detectives to Tayor’s apartment and Cosgrove fired the fatal shot during the raid, authorities have said.

Police Chief Yvette Genry levied two charges against Jaynes: that he wasn’t at the right location when the search warrant was executed and that he wasn’t truthful in an affidavit seeking the warrant, Clay said.

He disputes both allegations. Clay said Jaynes was at the location specified in a final police briefing prior to the raid and he was truthful in the affidavit seeking the warrant.

The warrant asserted that Jaynes had confirmed with a U.S. postal inspector that an alleged drug dealer had been receiving packages at Taylor’s apartment. The warrant said “it is not uncommon for drug traffickers to receive mail packages at different locations to avoid detection from law enforcement.”

Jaynes has told Louisville police internal investigators that the affidavit could have been worded differently, but Clay said the detective didn’t do anything wrong.

“He didn’t say he’d talked to this USPS inspector. He said he’d gotten information about it, which he did, from another member of LMPD, which certainly, I think, he was entitled to rely on. So when the chief says that he was untruthful when he put that in the search warrant affidavit, I believe that he was entirely truthful,” Clay said.

Jaynes was sued by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. In a motion asking a judge to dismiss him from the lawsuit, Jaynes acknowledged providing “incorrect information” in the warrant but argued that it was an “honest mistake” in an otherwise valid warrant. Jaynes’ motion was denied last month.

In a letter to Jaynes obtained by WDRB-TV, Gentry said there should have been “better controls, supervision and scrutiny” in preparing the warrant. “Because the operations plan was not completed properly a very dangerous situation was created for all parties involved,” Gentry wrote.

Cosgrove failed to “properly identify a target” when he fired rounds into Taylor’s apartment, killing her, according to a copy of his pretermination letter obtained by The Courier Journal.

Cosgrove, in his testimony to investigators, said the apartment was completely dark and he saw “vivid white flashes” and a “distorted shadowy mass, a figure in front of me.” He fired his handgun 16 times, according to ballistics evidence.

It wasn’t clear whether Cosgrove has a pretermination hearing. His attorney, Jerrod Beck, and Louisville Metro Police declined to comment on Wednesday.

Officers were serving a narcotics warrant on March 13 when they shot Taylor, but no drugs or cash were found in her home. Taylor was an emergency medical worker who had settled in for the night when police busted through her door.

Former officer Brett Hankison was charged by a grand jury with wanton endangerment, a low-level felony, for firing into an adjacent apartment where people were present. The two officers who shot Taylor, according to ballistics evidence, were not charged by the grand jury, based on a presentation of the case by the office of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

One of those officers was shot by Taylor’s boyfriend during the raid and returned fire. Taylor’s boyfriend said he thought an intruder was breaking into her apartment.