Officers should not have shot back during Breonna Taylor raid, PSU investigation concludes

26-year-old Breonna Taylor. (Source: Family Photo via WAVE)
26-year-old Breonna Taylor. (Source: Family Photo via WAVE)(WKYT)
Published: May. 9, 2021 at 4:40 AM EDT|Updated: May. 9, 2021 at 4:44 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor should not have fired their weapons, or so LMPD’s own Professional Standards Unit has concluded. That includes Sgt. Jon Mattingly, who was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.

In recently released documents, PSU investigators concluded that the officers should have gone through de-escalation tactics rather than firing back at Walker.

Officers should not have shot back during Breonna Taylor raid, PSU investigation concludes
Officers should not have shot back during Breonna Taylor raid, PSU investigation concludes

LMPD Det. Myles Cosgrove and Mattingly were questioned on their actions following the raid.

“Jon has been shot or killed, and he’s at my feet,” Cosgrove told investigators of his actions the night of the raid, “and that’s not a normal place for someone to be when doing an entry.”

Ultimately, Cosgrove, Mattingly, and former LMPD Det. Brett Hankison unloaded their weapons after Mattingly was shot by Walker, resulting in Taylor’s death.

“He shot, and I immediately returned fire,” Mattingly explained.

After a lengthy investigation, the PSU ultimately concluded Cosgrove and Mattingly violated LMPD’s policy for use of deadly force, pointing to Cosgrove’s actions of shooting without identifying a target, with his bullets ultimately killing Taylor.

“The target I’m firing at is a muzzle flash followed by an abnormal distorted human form at the end of the hallway,” Cosgrove told investigators. “My first clue is gunfire, second clue is human form, and then Jon being shot or killed, and Jon shooting and me shooting.”

However, WAVE 3 News safety and security expert D’Shawn Johnson said the PSU’s findings are tough conclusions to make given the circumstances in the situation.

“When you’re going through it, through the officer’s perspective, it’s hard to imagine what’s going through the officer’s mindset,” Johnson explained Friday.

His perspective is one of the reasons former Interim LMPD Chief Yvette Gentry disagreed with the PSU investigation and overturned their recommendations following the raid. She cited standard operating procedures, saying “deadly force is authorized based on what the officer ‘reasonably believes, based on the facts and circumstances by the officer at a specific moment in time. Sergeant Mattingly’s actions therefore need to be examined through the lens of what he reasonably believed at the time he discharged his weapon at an identified threat, at the end of a dimly lit hallway, after being shot himself.”

Gentry’s internal investigation went on to say that because of the immediate threat made by Walker firing, it made any de-escalation tactics impossible in the moment.

Ultimately, only one officer in the raid, Hankison, was criminally charged for his actions the night of Taylor’s death.

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