Two More Officers from Breonna Taylor Raid Fired
The detective who shot her and another who prepared the warrant have been ousted nine months later.
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs for the New York Times (“Louisville Officer Who Shot Breonna Taylor Will Be Fired“):
The Louisville police officer who fired the shot that killed Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency room technician whose death set off a wave of protests on American streets, was told on Tuesday that the department was moving to oust him from the force, as was a second officer who obtained a judge’s approval for the poorly planned nighttime raid on her home.
The move is the most significant acknowledgment by the department that its officers had committed serious violations when they burst through Ms. Taylor’s door late one night in March, encountered gunfire, and then fired a volley of shots at her and her boyfriend. The terminations mark an effort by the city’s interim police chief, Yvette Gentry, to achieve the reckoning she promised when she came out of retirement to lead the troubled department into the beginning of the new year.
Lawyers for Detective Myles Cosgrove, one of the officers who shot Ms. Taylor, and Detective Joshua Jaynes, who prepared the search warrant for the raid, said each had received notices of termination. Both have been on administrative reassignment as the investigations have been underway.
Until now, the only officer held accountable in the case had been Brett Hankison, a detective, who was fired in June for violating the department’s deadly force policy by shooting off 10 rounds from outside the apartment through two of Ms. Taylor’s windows. He was indicted by a grand jury in September on three counts of wanton endangerment because shots he fired entered a neighboring apartment.
Cosgrove and Hankinson ertainly deserve to have been fired. That it took this long—and came after a retired police chief was brought in to restore public confidence—muddies the signal, however. On the one hand, it should have happened months ago, given the sheer needlessness of a middle-of-the-night raid to look for drugs. On the other, it looks like a political move, a sop to satisfy the protestors, rather than a real acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
The Haynes firing, though, is more interesting:
Detective Jaynes, who did not take part in the raid, had been assigned to a unit formed shortly before the operation that was designed to focus on micro-locations plagued by violent crime. After analyzing crime statistics, the unit focused its attention on a street of derelict and abandoned houses in West Louisville, where Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend was suspected of operating a series of trap houses.
At issue in the accusations against Detective Jaynes is the search warrant affidavit for Ms. Taylor’s apartment that asserted that the police had spoken with the U.S. Postal Service and verified that parcels intended for Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend had been delivered to her apartment. Chief Gentry said Detective Jaynes had been misleading because he had actually gotten the information not from the Postal Service, but from another police officer.
“Having an independent, third party verify information is powerful and compelling information,” Chief Gentry wrote in the letter to Detective Jaynes, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times. “The inclusion of this in the affidavit as a direct verification was deceptive.”
Thomas Clay, the detective’s lawyer, said his client had never lied in getting the search warrant to search Ms. Taylor’s apartment.
“They have basically tried to throw him under the bus and he’s not going to fit under the bus because he did nothing wrong,” Mr. Clay said. Detective Jaynes will have an opportunity to respond to the chief’s claims at a department hearing on Thursday, according to the letter.
My strong suspicion is that Haynes was indeed deceptive in the application for the search warrant. My even stronger suspicion, however, is that this is common practice in the Louisville Police Department and, indeed, all police departments. I’m not sure the Department wants that discovery that would almost certainly accompany a wrongful termination suit.