US: Two police officers fired over Breonna Taylor shooting

Officer who FBI found fired lethal shot is dismissed as Louisville continues grappling with Taylor’s death.

People participate in a march for Breonna Taylor in New York City on September 25, 2020 [File: Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

Two Louisville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor have been fired, city officials announced on Wednesday.

Detectives Myles Cosgrove and Joshua Jaynes, who were implicated in the botched raid of Taylor’s home last March that led to her death, were informed of their dismissal on Tuesday.

An FBI investigation determined Cosgrove fired the shots that killed Taylor, 26.

Jaynes was not present at the raid, but was found by a Louisville Metro Police investigation to have violated department procedures for securing a search warrant and truthfulness in requesting the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment.

The dismissals were announced after city officials revealed their choice to lead the department. Erika Shields was the unanimous pick of a panel tasked with selecting the new chief, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. She will be the fourth person to lead the department in Kentucky’s largest city since Taylor was shot by officers serving a warrant in March.

“I commit to begin my work here with a focus on rebuilding community trust, trust that I believe was already eroding prior to Breonna Taylor’s killing,” Shields said.

Shields, who starts the job on January 19, also pledged to tackle gun violence in the city, which had a record 173 homicides in 2020.

The trust between police and many in the city’s Black community has frayed since Taylor’s death, which sparked months of protests, police reforms and the firing of the city’s longtime chief, Steve Conrad.

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Protesters participate in the Good Trouble Tuesday march for Breonna Taylor, on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, in Louisville [File: Amy Harris/Invision/AP Photo]

Two interim chiefs, including the first Black woman to the lead the department, have served since Conrad was fired in June.

“We all felt that Chief Shields was the number one person,” David James, a former Louisville police officer and the city’s Metro Council president told the Associated Press news agency. “She just rose to the top.”

Shields served in Atlanta for 25 years, including more than three years as chief, which ended when she resigned in June after Atlanta officers fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, in a restaurant parking lot.

Former Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields speaks during a Super Bowl LIII security press conference at Georgia World Congress Center on January 30, 2019 [File: John David Mercer-USA Today Sports via Reuters]

Shields said she was “sickened” by the shooting of Brooks. She said on Wednesday that staying on as chief in Atlanta would have amounted to a distraction, so she decided to step down.

To people in Louisville who might be upset over her hiring, she said she “would just ask that people step back, take the time to see what I accomplished, what I believe in and how I led the department”.

Deadly raid

Cosgrove and Jaynes are the second and third officers to be fired following Taylor’s death.

Taylor, a  Black emergency medical technician, was shot and killed as officers attempted to serve a no-knock search warrant. None of the three white officers who fired into Taylor’s home were charged by a grand jury in her death.

Officer Brett Hankison was fired last September after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of endangering Taylor’s neighbours with bullets that went through her home and into an adjacent apartment.

Investigators said Cosgrove fired 16 rounds into the apartment after the front door was breached and Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot at them.

This photo released by the Louisville Kentucky Police shows Louisville Police Detective Myles Cosgrove after a narcotics raid on March 13, 2020, the night Taylor died [Louisville Police via AP Photo]

Interim police chief Yvette Gentry wrote that Cosgrove failed to “properly identify a target” when he fired, according to media reports of the letter, which has not been released.

Jaynes was not at the scene the night of the shooting but sought the warrant that sent police to Taylor’s home. Gentry said Jaynes lied about how he obtained some information about Taylor in the warrant.

Jaynes and Cosgrove have been on administrative reassignment, along with another officer who was at the raid, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly.

Mattingly was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend, who said he thought an intruder was breaking into the home. Mattingly said in October that he intended to retire from the department.

In September, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who took on the role of special prosecutor in the case, said Cosgrove and Mattingly were not charged with Taylor’s killing because they acted to protect themselves.

The decision disappointed and angered those who had been calling for justice for Taylor for six months, and protesters said they would stay in the streets until all the officers involved were fired or someone was charged with her killing.

Three grand jurors, speaking anonymously, have since come forward to say that Cameron did not allow the grand jury to consider homicide-related charges against the officers for Taylor’s death. The three grand jurors said they believe they would have brought criminal charges against the officers if given the chance.

For months, Taylor’s name has been a rallying cry for activists protesting against the extrajudicial killing of Black men and women. Famed musicians, actors, athletes and politicians had called for the officers’ arrests.

Source: News Agencies