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Fired Louisville Police Officers Can Appeal. Here's How.

Louisville’s interim police chief may soon formally fire two detectives connected to the Breonna Taylor case. If Yvette Gentry moves ahead with that decision, Myles Cosgrove and Joshua Jaynes will have a limited time to appeal for reinstatement.

Gentry notified Cosgrove and Jaynes last week of her intention to fire them for their actions related to the fatal shooting of Taylor by police last March. She met with them and their counsels on Monday, and is expected to finalize the terminations soon.

John Bradley with the Louisville Metro Police Department’s public information office said in an email that the terminations were not finalized as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Thomas Clay, a lawyer for Jaynes, said they have not heard anything from Gentry yet. A lawyer for Cosgrove did not return a request for comment.

Once Jaynes and Cosgrove are notified of Gentry’s decision to fire them, they will have 10 calendar days to inform the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board — an independent body tasked with overseeing employment matters — of their intention to appeal.

Here’s what happens next, according to the board’s official procedures and state law:

  • The Merit Board schedules a public hearing for a date when at least four board members are available, in order to constitute a quorum. At least one of the four must be a police officer. The Merit Board is made up of five civilian members and two police officers.
  • In the 14 days after an officer informs the Merit Board of his or her intent to appeal, the other party may object to the appeal, in writing, after which the first party has five days to respond.
  • The board holds a public hearing, which could be held via video conference due to the pandemic. In that meeting, both parties can present evidence and witnesses, who will testify under oath. The body may issue subpoenas to compel witnesses. The parties may also present brief arguments.
  • After the open hearing, the board enters executive — or closed — session to deliberate. For the vote, the board reconvenes in public.
  • The board may side with the chief’s disciplinary recommendation, or, by majority vote, revoke that and impose its own discipline. If the board chooses to reinstate an officer, it could award the officer back pay, which they did in the 2011 case of officer Ronald Russ.
  • Those wishing to further appeal the decision of the Merit Board have 30 days to appeal to Jefferson County Circuit Court. That court’s judgement can also be challenged, at the Court of Appeals.

A recent case of an officer appealing termination is that of Gregory Satterly, who was fired in 2019 for multiple excessive force violations, including tasing a woman who was on the ground with her arms behind her back. He sued to be rehired last year with back pay and benefits. That case remains open in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Who Serves On The Merit Board

Five of the Merit Board’s members are appointed by the mayor and approved by Metro Council for four-year terms. The other two are elected by members of the River City Fraternal Order of Police for two-year terms.

The current civilian members of the board are Travis Hatchell, Alexandria Glaser, Brenda Harral, Michael James and Robert Graves.

The police members are Justin Witt and Anthony Roberts, who took the place vacated by former Det. Brett Hankison last year. Hankison was fired by then-interim police chief Robert Schroeder in June 2020 for his role in the Taylor shooting. Mayor Greg Fischer demanded Hankison’s removal from the board ahead of Schroeder’s announcement that he would fire him.

Hankison appealed the firing decision to the Merit Board, but his attorney later asked the board to delay its hearing into the matter until the criminal proceedings are complete.

In September, Hankison was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into a neighboring apartment during the after-midnight raid that left Taylor dead. That criminal case is ongoing.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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