LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Detective Myles Cosgrove failed to “properly identify a target” when he fired 16 rounds into Breonna Taylor’s apartment the night Louisville Metro Police fatally shot the 26-year-old Black woman, according to a copy of his pretermination letter obtained by The Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.
In seeking his firing, interim Chief Yvette Gentry found Cosgrove violated Louisville Metro Police procedures for his use of force and failing to use a body camera during the March 13 raid.
Cosgrove, the FBI concluded, fired the shot that killed Taylor, hitting her pulmonary artery. But his rounds sprayed the apartment, and he wasn’t certain what he was shooting at, according to the letter.
His shots came seconds after another officer, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, had been shot in the thigh by Taylor’s boyfriend after police had rammed in the front door while trying to serve a search warrant during a narcotics investigation.
“The shots you fired went in three distinctly different directions, demonstrating that you did not identify a specific target,” Gentry wrote. “Rather, you fired in a manner consistent with suppressive fire, which is in direct contradiction to our training, values and policy.”
Gentry wrote that her decision regarding the use of deadly force was based on three interviews Cosgrove gave: one to Public Integrity Unit criminal investigators, a second to the Attorney General’s Office and a third to the Professional Standards Unit investigation for policy violations.
“It appears you fired 16 rounds after Mr. (Kenneth) Walker fired one round,” Gentry wrote. “Two rounds were found in Ms. Taylor’s body and were identified as fired from your firearm, one being the fatal shot.”
Cosgrove’s attorney, Jarrod Beck, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in September his criminal investigation had concluded officers Cosgrove and Mattingly were justified in returning fire because Tayor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired his weapon first. Walker said he thought intruders were breaking in.
2 officers receive pretermination letters
Cosgrove and Detective Joshua Jaynes, who secured the warrant for Taylor’s apartment, both received pretermination letters Tuesday for violating LMPD policy.
Each will have a hearing with Gentry and her team Thursday morning in which they can present a defense. After that, the chief will decide whether to finalize their terminations.
LMPD has not publicly released the letters sent to Cosgrove or Janyes — directly contradicting the department’s handling of the firing of former Detective Brett Hankison in June.
The department released his pretermination letter the same day it was served at the orders of then-interim Chief Robert Schroeder.
Sgt. John Bradley, a spokesman for the department, said Schroeder opted to release the letter firing Hankison “based on his reasoning.”
He said there are no plans to release any paperwork associated with the Professional Standards Unit case until the completion of those cases.
However, Gentry’s letters to both Cosgrove and Jaynes say, “The investigation conducted by the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Professional Standards Unit is now complete.”
Ben Crump, Lonita Baker and Sam Aguiar, attorneys for Taylor’s family, are still calling for the officers to be criminally charged, too, saying police “lies, deceit and reckless actions led directly” to Taylor’s death.
“There is no revelation here,” they wrote in a statement Wednesday. “We’ve known since Bre’s killing that her death was a direct result of the lies, corruption, and complete malfeasance of the Louisville Metro Police Department. We applaud the diligent efforts of Chief Gentry who stepped in to investigate the events surrounding Breonna Taylor’s murder and not simply defer to the incompetence of the Attorney General’s office.”
Detective Cosgrove describes shooting
When interviewed by LMPD investigators 12 days after Taylor’s death, Cosgrove described the warrant execution in surreal terms.
Gentry honed in on these statements in her letter.
Cosgrove said he fired at a “distorted shadowy figure” inside the apartment and at a “distorted shadowy mask.”
“In your statement, you did not describe target isolation or target identification and instead described flashes that you did not properly evaluate as a threat,” Gentry wrote. “Had you evaluated the threat accurately, you would have likely stopped firing once the gunfire had stopped.”
He also made conflicting statements that were not questioned by the investigators, Sgt. Amanda Seelye and Sgt. Jason Vance.
Cosgrove said at one juncture he never heard any gunfire, but at another point he told Seelye and Vance he was “deafened” by it.
He also said he used a high-powered flashlight to illuminate the apartment but was “immediately overwhelmed with darkness.”
Cosgrove described how “this darkness in front of me” was “followed by — and this is hard for me to explain — this distorted shadowy mask, this figurine, this figure in front of me that is just … coming and going due to the flash fog light.”
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The interviewers didn’t ask him if the figure was male or female, Black or white, or if he saw one person or more than one.
But Cosgrove responded clearly when attorney Steve Schroering, then his counsel, asked him at the end of the interview: “At the time you were in that doorway with Mattingly, did you have any question in your mind that your all’s lives were in danger?”
“Absolutely not,” Cosgrove replied. “I knew for a fact that we were in danger of being killed or seriously injured.”
Steve Romines, an attorney for Walker, said Cosgrove’s actions are “practically the definition of wanton murder under Kentucky law.”
No body-camera footage of Breonna Taylor shooting
There was no body-camera footage of the shooting that left Taylor, who was unarmed, dead in the hallway of her apartment.
Cosgrove was photographed after the raid with a body camera mount on his vest, but no camera.
Gentry noted Cosgrove “failed to activate your assigned WVS (wearable video system) in recording mode prior to your engagement in this law enforcement activity.”
Another officer, Detective Anthony James, wore a camera but it was not activated.
The letter found Cosgrove was exonerated for a violation of de-escalation procedures.