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Louisville police move to fire two more officers involved in raid that killed Breonna Taylor

Fifteen hours of audio from the grand jury proceedings were released after no officers were directly charged in the killing of Breonna Taylor. (Video: The Washington Post)

Louisville police on Tuesday moved to fire two officers involved in the fatal raid on Breonna Taylor’s home, in a bid for more accountability in the tragedy that ignited the country last summer amid a broader racial-justice movement.

Detective Joshua Jaynes, who was responsible for the “no-knock” search warrant, received a pre-termination letter Tuesday, according to a copy of the missive shared by local news outlets. The department is also seeking to terminate Detective Myles Cosgrove, the officer who, an FBI ballistics report concluded, fired the shot that proved fatal to Taylor, according to the New York Times and several local news outlets.

Jaynes’s pre-termination letter, from interim chief Yvette Gentry, accuses him of breaching department policies around truthfulness and preparing for a warrant’s execution. Among other alleged violations, Gentry wrote that Jaynes “lied” in writing on the warrant application that he verified through a U.S. postal inspector that Taylor was receiving packages related to her ex-boyfriend’s alleged drug activity.

“These are extreme violations of our policies, which endangered others,” Gentry wrote in the letter. “Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department.”

Attorneys for Jaynes and Cosgrove did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Washington Post. Thomas Clay, an attorney for Jaynes, told the Courier-Journal that he and his client plan to contest the attempted termination at a hearing Thursday.

If Jaynes and Cosgrove are fired, they will become the second and third officers terminated in relation to the raid on Taylor’s home, joining previously terminated Officer Brett Hankison. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) charged Hankison in September with three counts of wanton endangerment for shots he fired that entered a neighboring apartment. He has pleaded not guilty.

The accusation that Jaynes lied to obtain the warrant also raises questions about the validity of the raid, which has fueled frequent protests since it happened in March. No one was directly charged in Taylor’s killing, although the FBI continues to investigate whether any officers violated federal civil rights laws.

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A spokesperson for Cameron did not immediately reply to questions about whether the attorney general will take any action in response to Gentry’s conclusions about Jaynes’s behavior. A spokesperson for Louisville police also did not reply to a message seeking comment on the attempted terminations.

Gentry’s letter to Jaynes labels as “not truthful” his statement on the warrant application that he had “verified through a U.S. Postal Inspector” that Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, was receiving packages at her home. Jaynes did not actually talk with a postal inspector but instead received information through a chain of communication that included a fellow officer involved in the raid and another Kentucky police department, an investigation found.

Jaynes also lied by writing on the warrant application that a postal inspector had advised him that Glover was getting packages at Taylor’s apartment, Gentry’s letter alleges.

The chief also took aim at Jaynes’s preparation for the raid, saying he should have implemented “better controls, supervision and scrutiny.” Jaynes conducted most of the investigation that led to the raid, and so he or one of his supervisors should have been present when the warrant was carried out, Gentry wrote.

“Because the operations plan was not completed properly a very dangerous situation was created for all parties involved,” the letter says.

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In a department-wide email obtained by the Courier-Journal, Gentry wrote that the attempted firings were a result of a “nearly completed” internal investigation into whether any of the officers involved in Taylor’s death violated the force’s policies.

“I had to make some tough decisions,” she wrote. “I do however, believe I was fair and I intend to take all mitigating factors into consideration. I believe my decisions have placed the responsibility for the actions taken in this case upon the shoulders of the people who I believe are responsible.”

The Louisville branch of the Fraternal Order of Police acknowledged that two officers received pre-termination notices and will have hearings before Gentry. The officers have the right to appeal any discipline that she imposes, the FOP said in a statement.

Attorneys for Taylor’s family on Wednesday called for Jaynes and Cosgrove to be criminally charged, in addition to being fired.

“There is no revelation here," attorneys Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker said in a statement. “We’ve known since Bre’s killing that her death was a direct result of the lies, corruption, and complete malfeasance of the Louisville Metro Police Department. We applaud the diligent efforts of Chief Gentry who stepped in to investigate the events surrounding Breonna Taylor’s murder and not simply defer to the incompetence of the attorney general’s office.”

Calls for a new prosecutor to examine the killing of Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency-room technician, have so far been denied.

Cameron, who handled the case after a local prosecutor recused himself, has defended himself against criticism that his investigation was biased in favor of his fellow law-enforcement officers. His responsibility was to ask only for indictments that his office could prove, he said in October.

Two anonymous grand jurors in the case have publicly alleged that Cameron’s office refused to give them all the evidence they requested and have said a new prosecutor should be appointed. A third anonymous juror said they supported the fact that “no additional charges were allowed” beyond the wanton endangerment charges.

Taylor’s killing came in the early-morning hours of March 13, when several officers arrived at her apartment and knocked several times. While the officers claim they announced themselves as police, several neighbors and Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, dispute that.

Walker fired one shot with a gun he legally owned, striking Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg, after officers broke down the door with a battering ram. Walker has said he thought the officers were intruders.

Mattingly and Cosgrove shot back, and Taylor was hit six times. Shots fired by Hankison, who fired from outside the home, are not believed to have struck Taylor.