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Court upholds firing of Louisville officer who shot, killed Breonna Taylor

Former LMPD officer Myles Cosgrove (center) sits between his two lawyers as Michael Musengo testifies before the Police Merit Board.
Roberto Roldan
Former LMPD officer Myles Cosgrove (center) sits between his two lawyers during the Police Merit Board hearings.

Former Louisville Metro Police Department Detective Myles Cosgrove has lost another appeal of his firing for his role in the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment in 2020.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled then LMPD Chief Yvette Gentry “properly terminated” Detective Myles Cosgrove for violating the department’s use-of-force policy. Cosgrove was one of a handful of officers involved in executing a search warrant at Breonna Taylor’s apartment in March 2020. He fired the fatal round that killed 26-year-old Taylor, a Black woman. Her death sparked months of racial justice protests, and prompted a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that found LMPD officers routinely violated civilians’ civil rights, especially Black people.

Gentry fired Cosgrove after an internal investigation revealed he fired 16 shots in three different directions without properly identifying a threat. During a Police Merit Board hearing in late 2021, Gentry said her decision was based on Cosgrove’s own account of the raid, since none of the officers were wearing body cameras.

“After looking at his three interviews and looking at the evidence, seeing that rounds went in just about every direction possible inside that apartment, I had no faith that I could put a gun and badge in his hands and send him back out there with significant authority,” she said.

In police interviews, Cosgrove said he had to react quickly after gunfire came from inside the apartment as officers rammed down the door. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot once at police, later saying he thought they were intruders.

Asked what he was aiming at when he returned fire, Cosgrove said he shot in the direction of a “shadowy figure” and “flashes of light.”

Gentry determined that did not meet the requirement that officers have “target identification and isolation” before firing their weapon.

The three-judge panel at the Kentucky Court of Appeals found no error in Gentry’s decision, nor in the decision of the Merit Board and Jefferson County Circuit Court that upheld the firing. The panel, which included Chief Judge Larry Thompson, found these decisions were supported by “substantial evidence.”

L. Scott Miller, the attorney representing Cosgrove, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During his various appeals, Cosgrove and his attorneys argued he was held to a different standard than other officers who took part in the raid, including Sgt. John Mattingly who was struck in the leg. The Police Merit Board ruled that their situations were not comparable, a decision the court of appeals agreed with.

“... there were adequate reasons why the two were treated differently,” the judges wrote in their opinion. “Sgt. Mattingly was able to see more detail when he opened fire. Also, Sgt. Mattingly was shot, which would help excuse his errant shots.”

Cosgrove has also maintained that his firing was politically motivated. He argued then Mayor Greg Fischer, facing mounting pressure from protesters, pushed Gentry to fire the officers involved in the raid on Taylor’s apartment.

Former Deputy Police Chief LaVita Chavous testified during Cosgrove’s appeal to the Police Merit Board in 2021 that she overheard Fischer say during a meeting that he wished he could fire the officers before the investigations finished. Chavous said she relayed her concerns to LMPD leadership.

“I was just basically saying I was surprised that he was coming to that conclusion, because the investigation hadn’t been totally completed,” she testified.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals judges ruled there was not enough evidence to support Cosgrove’s claim that his firing was motivated by politics.

“The [Police Merit] Board rejected this argument because there was no evidence that the mayor ordered Chief Gentry or other officials to fire Appellant,” the Appeals judges said. “The Board weighed the evidence regarding political motivations and found it lacking in support. We find no error.”

Unlike some of the other officers involved in the raid or in securing the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, Cosgrove has never faced criminal charges for his actions. Last year, Cosgrove was hired by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department in northern Kentucky.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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