LMPD Detective Myles Cosgrove

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

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Former Louisville Metro Police Det. Myles Cosgrove said he regrets fatally shooting Breonna Taylor but knew “without a doubt” that his and Sgt. Johnathan Mattingly’s lives were in danger if he didn’t return fire coming from “a shadowy figure” in her apartment.

“I did what I thought was right that evening,” Cosgrove told the Louisville Police Merit Board Tuesday during the third day of testimony in his termination appeal. “I was addressing the deadly threat that was in front of me.”

Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired a shot at police, hitting Mattingly in the leg. Walker later said he believed police were intruders breaking into the apartment before 1 a.m. on March 13, 2020.

Police shot and killed Taylor, 26, in the hallway of her apartment during an undercover raid on her home on Springfield Drive as part of a series of raids elsewhere that targeted narcotics trafficking. Cosgrove fired the fatal shot and was fired by LMPD in January. 

No drugs or money were found in her home.

Asked by his attorney if he regretted Taylor being shot and killed, Cosgrove took a long pause:

“Of course I do,” he told the board. “It’s horrible. It’s made me question (my) faith. It’s powerful to have taken a life and to have to live with that. I can’t explain to you how regretful and how much grief that has caused me.”

In November, former chief Yvette Gentry testified she “had no faith I could put a gun and badge back in” Cosgrove’s hands “and send him back into the community” after his statements about shooting Taylor.

Gentry told the board that Cosgrove never identified a target and fired 16 shots in different directions after he and other officers burst into Taylor’s home. 

But Cosgrove said he saw a muzzle flash and “a form” and, while he didn’t hear a gunshot or see a gun, knew that Mattingly had been hit.

He told the board the “human figure” who shot Mattingly was “directly in front of me” on the right side of the hallway.

“There’s no doubt that is the form shooting at me, directly in front of me,” he said. 

But Cosgrove still has trouble believing he fired more than four times and could not identify Walker immediately after the shooting. In addition, he told the board that if investigators had told him he had not shot his gun at all, he would have believed them.

“It’s hard to describe something that happens in the blink of an eye,” Cosgrove said, estimating that the shooting lasted about five seconds.

And while Cosgrove testified Tuesday that he believed his shots went to the right of the hallway, at the person who fired at officers, some of his 16 shots were wildly off target, including into Taylor’s kitchen.

Cosgrove testified that when Mattingly fell, he bumped him “violently,” which could have resulted in some of the shots firing off target.

“I do take responsibility for those shots, but I believed my life and John’s life were in danger,” he said. “You have to understand, we are not at the (firing) range, and it was an evolving situation ... I knew we were being shot at. When you know something, you know something."

Gentry previously testified that in three different interviews with investigators, Cosgrove could not articulate a reason for the number of shots fired or justify that he saw a threat where deadly force was necessary, given he never saw a gun, heard a shot and described seeing bright lights and a shadowy figure.

“You fire 16 rounds, and they go in three different directions, and you say you don’t hear and you’re not seeing” a specific threat, Gentry said in November.  “I didn't have the confidence" to keep him.

The FBI determined Cosgrove fired the shot that killed Taylor.

Mattingly also returned fire, shooting six times toward the target he identified. He resigned from the department.

“All of his shots went toward that threat he identified, and he moved himself out of the way,” Gentry previously said of Mattingly.

Cosgrove said he stopped shooting when Mattingly was out of the “fatal funnel,” the confined hallway.

“You are supposed to rescue that officer,” Cosgrove said when asked what officers are taught to do when an officer is down. “You are trying to stop more violence and rescue a life.”

Since the shooting, Cosgrove said his life and those of his children have been threatened, he has been forced to move, and “the department disowned me.”

Asked by a board member why he would fight to get his job back if the department had disowned him, Cosgrove said it was a matter of principle.

“It’s a matter of honor,” he said, adding that the termination discredited him and other members of his profession “just to fit their narrative.”

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.

The Louisville Police Merit Board will hear additional testimony on Wednesday.

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