A former Louisville police officer who fired the fatal shot that killed Breonna Taylor has a new job in law enforcement – a controversial hiring that drew protesters to a rural Kentucky county northeast of the city.
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday confirmed the employment of Myles Cosgrove, who was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department in January 2021 for violating use-of-force procedures and failing to use a body camera during the raid on Taylor’s apartment, according to media reports.
About a dozen people showed up in downtown Carrolton Monday morning to object to his hiring, holding signs and chanting “Cosgrove has got to go.”
“I think he should be in jail,” said Haley Wilson, a 24-year-old resident of the small Kentucky town near the Ohio River. She said it is “absolutely ridiculous” that Cosgrove is now policing her town.
Investigators said that Cosgrove fired 16 rounds into the apartment after Taylor’s front door was breached during a narcotics raid on March 13, 2020. Thinking an intruder was breaking in, Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot from a handgun at the officers. Officer Jonathan Mattingly was struck in the leg, and the officers returned fire, killing Taylor in her hallway.
An FBI investigation determined that Cosgrove and Mattingly struck Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, and that Cosgrove likely fired the fatal shot. Neither officer was charged by a 2020 state grand jury in Taylor’s death, and a two-year investigation by the FBI also cleared Cosgrove and Mattingly of any charges.
The FBI probe found that other superior officers had crafted a faulty drug warrant that contained false information about Taylor. U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland said in August that the officers who went to Taylor’s apartment with the warrant “were not involved in drafting the warrant affidavit and were not aware that it was false.”
Robert Miller, chief deputy in Carroll County, pointed out that Cosgrove was cleared by the state grand jury when speaking of his hiring at the small Kentucky sheriff’s department.
In November, the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council voted not to revoke Cosgrove’s state peace officer certification. That meant he could apply for other law enforcement jobs in the state.
Brett Hankison, an officer who fired shots but didn’t hit anybody during the raid, was found not guilty by a jury of wanton endangerment charges. But he still awaits trial on federal civil rights charges for his actions during the raid, as do two other officers who were involved in obtaining the warrant. A third officer pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the crafting of the warrant.
There is no national database of officers who resign or are fired in misconduct cases, meaning in a lot of cases they can apply for jobs in other police agencies and departments.
In some cases, agencies that hire officers who were fired somewhere else may be unaware of the officer’s history because they failed to do a proper background check, said Ben Grunwald, a Duke University law school professor and co-author of a study published in 2020 on so-called “wandering officers,” or those fired by one agency who later find work at another. In Cosgrove’s case, however, his history was highly publicized.
In some cases, it’s possible the hiring agency sees a previously fired officer’s history as a benefit, rather than a risk, Grunwald said.
“Maybe that’s exactly what they want,” he said. “Maybe they are looking for a cowboy cop who has gotten in trouble in the past, but they think they got a bad shake.”