LMPD Detective Myles Cosgrove

Former Louisville Metro Police Detective Myles Cosgrove. (Photo courtesy of LMPD) 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Louisville Metro Police detective Myles Cosgrove fired 16 bullets into Breonna Taylor’s apartment during a March 13, 2020 raid — including the shot that killed her — without ever identifying a threat or isolating a target, an attorney for LMPD told the police merit board on Tuesday.

“And Breonna Taylor died because of it,” Assistant County Attorney Brendan Daugherty told the board during the first day of hearings as Cosgrove appeals his termination. 

The department, which fired Cosgrove in January, and Daugherty argue that Cosgrove merely saw a “distorted shadowy figure” and "blinding white flashes" when he and former Sgt. Johnathan Mattingly burst through Taylor’s door. He could not determine if anyone had a gun. 

In fact, Cosgrove didn’t know how many shots he had fired and couldn’t “articulate” to investigators “his perception of a specific threat that justified firing one shot into Breonna Taylor’s apartment, much less 16,” Daugherty said.

And Taylor "was not and never was a threat against whom deadly force should have been used," he said, arguing Cosgrove's termination for excessive use of force should be upheld. 

But Cosgrove’s attorney, Scott Miller, said Cosgrove’s use of force was proper as he saw a muzzle flash and Mattingly was shot by Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, and fell to the ground seconds after the two entered the apartment.

"Both officers immediately got shot at," he said. 

Cosgrove had to make a “split-second life-or death-decision” after seeing the flash and Mattingly go down, Miller told the merit board.

“He shouldn’t lose his livelihood over that decision,” Miller said. “He responded the way most LMPD officers would have responded.”

In addition, Miller said the subsequent investigation proved Cosgrove was correct in his assessment of the threat, as Walker fired a shot hitting Mattingly in the leg.

Cosgrove’s perception of the situation was “reasonable” and “confirmed,” Miller said. "He acted in accordance with the policy in a high stress rapidly evolving situation." 

On Sept. 23, 2020, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that only one officer, Brett Hankison, would be indicted in the raid.

Cameron told reporters that his office and the Jefferson County grand jury both agreed that Mattingly and Cosgrove were "justified" in returning a shot fired first by Walker. Walker, who was standing in the apartment's hallway, has said he believed police were intruders breaking into the apartment before 1 a.m. March 13.

The Louisville Police Merit Board will hear testimony Tuesday, Wednesday and then Dec. 13 through Dec. 15.

Cosgrove's termination papers said he couldn't see a target during the drug raid. He was fired in January by former interim LMPD Chief Yvette Gentry.

In Cosgrove's termination letter, Gentry indicated that his employment was being terminated for violations of standard operating procedures related to the use of deadly force and for failing activate his body camera before the incident.

Before the merit hearing began, Cosgrove's attorney and the city stipulated that he failed to wear and activate his body camera, which would have resulted in a one-day suspension. 

Cosgrove violated the department's use-of-force policy for shooting "16 rounds into the apartment without positively identifying" the person who fired at officers, Gentry said

Police shot and killed Taylor, 26, during an undercover raid on her apartment on Springfield Drive as part of a series of raids elsewhere that targeted narcotics trafficking.

No drugs or money were found in her home. Nothing illegal was found in her home.

The city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with her family for $12 million.

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