Former interim Louisville Police Chief Yvette Gentry said she had no faith ex-Det. Myles Cosgrove could be sent back out into the community after learning details about the 16 shots he fired during a deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment.
Gentry said that during a Louisville Metro Police Merit Board hearing on Wednesday. Gentry fired Cosgrove back in January for failing to properly identify a threat when he fired his gun during the March 2020 search. Cosgrove, aided by two attorneys, is appealing Gentry’s decision and trying to get his job back.
Assistant County Attorney Brendan Daugherty, who is representing the city, called Gentry to the stand on the second day of the hearing. Gentry said Cosgrove’s own statements informed her decision to fire him, since he was not wearing a body camera that night.
“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.
Gentry said that, in interviews following Taylor’s killing, Cosgrove repeatedly failed to identify a specific threat that warranted a response of deadly force. After the incident, Cosgrove talked to internal investigators about firing at a “shadowy mass” and “flashing light” or muzzle flashes.
She also pointed to an interview Cosgrove gave to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office months after the shooting in which Cosgrove said he thought he only fired four times.
“If you’re still six months later saying you didn’t fire those 12 additional rounds or you don’t remember firing those additional rounds, I can’t have confidence that you need to be restored as a police officer,” she said.
Gentry said she wasn’t making a criminal decision in this case, she was making an employment decision “based on all of the stakeholders in the community.”
“There was nothing in me that said, ‘Let him just suit up and go back out there,’” she said.
Gentry was the second witness called by Louisville Metro.
Sgt. Andrew Meyer, an internal investigator with LMPD’s Professional Standards Unit, testified Monday that he determined Cosgrove violated the department’s use of force policy. That states an officer must be able to say why their actions are justified, and can only use deadly force against someone who poses an immediate threat to the officer or another person.
The city’s lawyers argued Cosgrove never identified any specific target or threat during the middle-of-the-night raid. They’re also arguing that Taylor, who was unarmed when she was killed, did not pose a threat. An FBI ballistics report found that Cosgrove fired the fatal shots.
Cosgrove’s lawyer, however, spent multiple hours questioning Gentry about whether Cosgrove’s actions were reasonable, given that Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired on officers first. Walker later said he believed someone was trying to break into the apartment. Former Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who was standing near Cosgrove, was struck by Walker’s bullet.
“You can’t accurately recreate the kind of stress that officers are under in training, can you?” Cosgrove’s attorney Scott Miller asked Gentry. “You’d agree that officers all respond and handle stress differently on their own, even with training?”
Miller also questioned Gentry about whether she was pressured to fire Cosgrove.
“You didn’t have any conversations with [Mayor Greg Fischer] about Det. Cosgrove being terminated?” Miller asked.
Gentry responded that she didn’t speak to Fischer until after she had already made her decision to fire Cosgrove.
Cosgrove’s have argued that his actions met the standard of “reasonableness” set by the U.S. Supreme Court. During opening statements on Monday, Miller said LMPD’s decision to fire Cosgrove was made with the “luxury of 20/20 hindsight,” which the former detective didn’t have at the time.
The Louisville Metro Police Merit Board is tasked with deciding whether to accept or overturn Cosgrove’s firing. They hold hearings that proceed similarly to trials. That means Cosgrove’s lawyers will also be expected to call witnesses and make their case for his reinstatement.
The merit board has three additional days scheduled in December to continue the appeal hearing. Cosgrove’s attorneys plan to call an expert witness to the stand to testify about decision-making and use of force during high-stress situations. Cosgrove himself is also expected to take the stand.
Cosgrove was one of three officers who fired their weapons as they attempted to enter Taylor’s apartment. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron only pursued charges against one of them: former Det. Brett Hankison. Hankison currently faces three counts of felony wanton endangerment for shots he fired into an occupied neighboring apartment.
Joshua Jaynes, the officer who got the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, was fired at the same time as Cosgrove for making false statements in the search warrant affidavit. The Police Merit Board upheld his termination in June.