Sheriff’s Office in Rural Kentucky Hires Detective Who Killed Breonna Taylor

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CARROLLTON, Ky. — The police detective who fatally shot Breonna Taylor during a chaotic raid on her apartment in Louisville, Ky., has been hired by a small county sheriff’s office in the state, prompting both support and protests from people who live in the rural county.

Myles Cosgrove, one of two officers who shot Ms. Taylor in March 2020, was hired in recent days by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, according to the county executive, David Wilhoite. Carroll County is about an hour’s drive northeast of Louisville.

Mr. Cosgrove, who is white, was fired by the Louisville Police Department in the aftermath of the nighttime raid, which prompted a wave of protests across the country in the spring and summer of 2020. An F.B.I. report found that he had fired the shot that killed Ms. Taylor, a Black 26-year-old emergency room technician who had hoped to become a nurse.

Mr. Cosgrove was fired by the Louisville police after the raid that left Breonna Taylor dead. Credit…Louisville Metropolitan Police Department

Carrollton, the county seat of Carroll County, was jolted by news of the hiring on Monday, though views in the city were mixed.

About two dozen demonstrators protested the hiring outside of the county courthouse, including Morgan Zeyak, who said she feared that the department had hired a “trigger-happy” officer.

“I hope we get him out of his position,” said Ms. Zeyak, 21, who is Black and lives in Carrollton. “I don’t feel comfortable with him on the police force.”

In a statement, Ms. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, who lives in Louisville, said she was disgusted to learn that Mr. Cosgrove would again be working as a police officer.

“When are these cops going to stop protecting bad cops?” Ms. Palmer said. “The people in that county have now got a killer with a badge they’ve got to deal with.”

But in a county of roughly 11,000 residents that is 94 percent white and where 71 percent of voters went for former President Donald J. Trump in 2020, supporters of the hiring were not hard to find.

Several people in town who declined to give their names said they were not worried about having Mr. Cosgrove police the community.

Carol Weatherholt, who showed up at the courthouse to pick up some paperwork only to find the doors locked because of the demonstration, said she did not understand the outrage over his hiring.

“He was never charged, so I don’t know what the protesters are worried about,” said Ms. Weatherholt, 65, who is white. “It’s ridiculous.”

Ernest Welch Jr. owns a restaurant in Carrollton’s tidy downtown where the Ohio River plods by, offering expansive vistas of barges and the Indiana countryside on the other side. He said he worried that the county was bringing bad publicity upon itself just as the area was seeing signs of a revival.

“I don’t think he should be in our little county,” Mr. Welch, 72, who is also white, said of Mr. Cosgrove. “We didn’t need another deputy sheriff. I’m afraid it will be a mess if it is not settled soon.”

A lawyer for Mr. Cosgrove, Jarrod Beck, said he had no comment on the new job. In November, the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council voted not to revoke the certification that allows Mr. Cosgrove to work as a police officer in the state, and he has never been charged with a crime.

In some other high-profile cases where officers used deadly force, states have moved to decertify officers, particularly those who are charged with crimes. That happened in neighboring Tennessee last month, where the state moved to decertify four officers charged in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols.

Other police departments have faced criticism for hiring officers who killed people under contested circumstances. Timothy Loehmann, the white officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy who was playing with a pellet gun at a Cleveland park, was briefly hired by a Pennsylvania police department last year until an outcry led to his ouster.

The raid on Ms. Taylor’s apartment was conducted when the Louisville police were looking for evidence of drug dealing by her former boyfriend. A detective involved in obtaining the search warrant for the raid admitted last year that the police had misled the judge who authorized it. In fact, the former detective said, the connection between Ms. Taylor’s former boyfriend and her apartment was much more tenuous than the police had indicated.

When police officers rammed open the apartment door, Ms. Taylor’s new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot at the doorway, striking an officer in the leg. Mr. Walker said later that he believed the officers were intruders and that he had not heard them announce themselves.

Three officers returned fire, with two firing shots that hit Ms. Taylor. Neither Mr. Cosgrove nor the other officer whose shot hit Ms. Taylor has been criminally charged. Prosecutors have said that the officers did not know at the time of the raid that the search warrant was based in part on false information.

The Justice Department filed federal charges last year against four officers involved in the raid. Mr. Cosgrove was not among them.

Three of the officers were charged with presenting false information to a judge in order to get a warrant to raid the apartment, and a fourth officer, Brett Hankison, was charged with violating the rights of Ms. Taylor’s neighbors by recklessly firing bullets that flew through Ms. Taylor’s apartment and into theirs. Mr. Hankison was the only officer to face state charges in the case; a jury found him not guilty of endangering the neighbors.

Kevin Williams reported from Carrollton, Ky., and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from New York.

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