Cop Who Fired 16 Rounds at Breonna Taylor Said He Only Surmised That He Had Used His Gun
Myles Cosgrove, a Louisville, Kentucky, detective who participated in the fruitless and legally dubious drug raid that killed Breonna Taylor last March, told investigators the incident unfolded so quickly that he was not consciously aware of using his gun. That detail, which emerged from audio recordings of grand jury proceedings that were released on Friday, is alarming in light of the fact that Cosgrove fired 16 rounds—including the fatal bullet, according to the FBI’s ballistic analysis.
“I just sensed that I’ve fired,” Cosgrove said in an interview that was played for the grand jurors. “It’s like a surreal thing. If you told me I didn’t do something at that time, I’d believe you. If you told me I did do something, I’d probably believe you, too.”
Cosgrove was responding to a single round fired by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who has consistently said he thought he was protecting Taylor and himself from dangerous criminals. That bullet struck Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in his left thigh. But Cosgrove said he was “overwhelmed with bright flashes and darkness,” which led him to believe “there’s still these gunshots happening due to those bright lights.”
At a press conference last month, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Mattingly fired six rounds after he was hit, which may account for Cosgrove’s mistaken impression that someone inside the apartment was continuing to shoot at him and his colleagues. Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove fired “almost simultaneously” at Walker and Taylor, who was unarmed but standing next to Walker “at the end of the hall.”
A third officer, Detective Brett Hankison, blindly fired 10 rounds from outside the apartment, an act of recklessness that led the grand jury to charge him with three counts of wanton endangerment. Some of Hankison’s rounds entered the unit behind Taylor’s, which was occupied by a man, a pregnant woman, and a child. Hankison is the only officer who faces criminal charges in connection with the raid. State prosecutors concluded that the other two officers legally used deadly force in self-defense.
Cosgrove’s description of the incident does not necessarily cast doubt on that conclusion, but it does underline the dangers inherent in the armed home invasions that police routinely use to enforce drug prohibition. Those dangers include not only the well-known risk that residents will mistake cops for robbers but the possibility that police will mistake their colleagues’ gunfire for an assault by their targets. In such chaotic circumstances, there is also a risk that police will be injured or killed by friendly fire.
The plainclothes officers were serving a warrant based on Taylor’s continued contact with an ex-boyfriend who w
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