LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Homemade wanted posters picture their faces. Signs hoisted at rallies call them murderers. Petitions and checklists online demand their arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.
As Breonna Taylor has become a household name in recent months, so, too, have the names of the three Louisville Metro Police officers involved in the 26-year-old’s death five months ago: Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, detective Myles Cosgrove and former detective Brett Hankison.
That attention has also brought a slew of threats, some of them credible, according to LMPD. In response, the department provided more than 2,500 hours of security outside the officers’ homes in May and June, recently released records show.
The cost of the patrol officers’ time was nearly $94,000 for the 26-day period.
“This has been an emotionally charged time, including hostility directed at Louisville Metro Police officers, including doxing and other threatening cyber-attacks,” spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said in an email to The Courier Journal.
“While we don’t share details about specific threats, in some cases security has been necessary.”
In mid-June, The Courier Journal — a part of the USA TODAY Network — filed an Kentucky open-records request for all documents relating to security for Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison between March 13 and June 16 including correspondence authorizing the security and timecards for the assigned officers.
LMPD responded Aug. 7, providing an accounting of the hours worked and total cost for May 22 through June 13. But the department declined to release the names of who had requested security, saying it would “clearly be an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, particularly as it relates to that person’s safety.”
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The provided records indicate 2,512 hours of officer time, at a rate of $37.28 per hour. The figures, an estimate of the cost of staffing for the requested security details, didn’t include any overtime payments.
Nationwide and local outrage has persisted in the case, with protesters saying the facts presented are sufficient to fire the officers and charge them criminally.
But seven area defense attorneys, including three who are Black, have disputed that assessment, telling The Courier Journal that officers had a legal right to defend themselves once her Taylor’s boyfriend shot at them.
And as investigations into Taylor’s case drag on, emotions will only continue to rise, said Robert LeVertis Bell, a former Metro Council candidate who’s attended local protests.
Bell said he believes the officers “deserve their day in court,” but he also understands why they’re receiving security while everyone awaits announcements from the federal and state agencies responsible for reviewing the fatal shooting.
“The facts are in,” he said. “If they’re going to charge them, they need to announce it. If they’re not going to charge them, they need to announce it … so we can at least move toward having some idea of what our future looks like as a city.
One of the officers who fired his weapon that night, Hankison, has been fired for his role in the shooting. Interim Chief Robert Schroeder wrote in the June 23 termination letter that Hankison showed “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “blindly” fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment and the one next door.
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Mattingly and Cosgrove remain on administrative reassignment with pay.
In June, LMPD Interim Chief Robert Schroeder placed a fourth officer connected to Taylor’s case on administrative reassignment.
Joshua Jaynes, a detective with the Place-Based Investigations unit, a newly formed unit meant to target crime hotspots obtained the warrant for Taylor’s apartment and four other addresses connected to a larger narcotics investigation.
Jaynes’ affidavit for the warrants that linked Taylor’s home to possible drug transactions has been called into question over its accuracy.
While Jaynes has not received the same amount of attention as Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison — the latter of whom was publicly accused of sexual assault while still a police officer — his name and image still circulate widely on social media.
Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Fischer, said the city has tried to disseminate correct information since the shooting, making “dozens of calls to local and national media to correct and clarify.”
LMPD itself has played a role in misinformation, referring to Taylor at a press conference the day of her death as a possible suspect who may have shot at police (though then-Chief Steve Conrad said it wasn’t known if she was armed. She wasn’t).
Moreover, a department incident report from her death listed her injuries as “none” and said there was no forced entry, even though officers used a battering ram to enter her apartment.
Critics of the mayor, including Louisville’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, say Fischer could have done more to set the record straight on what the officers did and didn’t do that night at Taylor’s apartment.
“Like being at the wrong address,” said Ryan Nichols, the police union’s president. “Why would you make the media do an open records request to get a warrant you could hold up to say we were at exactly the right address?”
‘Let the jury make the determination’
Attorneys for Taylor’s family have repeatedly maintained that Taylor was murdered, but they have acknowledged the officers connected to her death may not face murder charges.
“What we’ve called on and what we’ve always called on is any officer involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor, who is responsible, criminally responsible, be charged and presented to a jury, and let the jury make the determination,” said Lonita Baker, a local attorney for Taylor’s family.
Other officers were at the scene at the time Taylor was shot, according to statements made by Mattingly, but LMPD has only named the three who fired their weapons.
Mattingly and police investigators discussed during an interview that at least four more officers were present as the warrant was served, in addition to Hankison and Cosgrove.
A whiteboard police used to plan that night’s warrants, shared publicly by Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine during a May 22 press conference, shows that Breonna’s apartment was to be staffed by eight officers, including Mattingly, Cosgrove and Hankison, plus a police dog.
Additionally, in a July 27 court filing, Taylor’s attorneys sought location information through cell phone data for five officers, including Kimberly Burbrink, who leads LMPD’s Criminal Interdiction Division that executed the search warrant signed by Circuit Judge Mary Shaw.
“We want any officer involved — it may be two, it may be four, it may be more, we don’t know — but anyone who’s responsible through this investigation, we want held accountable,” Baker said in a Thursday press conference.
Though security details have been assigned to officers’ homes in the past, the national attention has prolonged the need. Various sites have targeted the officers and other officials, including Mayor Fischer.
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The Courier Journal sought security costs for Fischer’s residence in June, but that open-records request has not been fulfilled by LMPD.
Reporters have observed police stationed outside his home, and roads were blocked with city vehicles including dump trucks at a planned barbecue protest in mid-June.
Porter declined to comment on whether Fischer was receiving additional security, reiterating that the office doesn’t comment on security issues.
Breonna Taylor attention on ‘a grander scale’
It is not uncommon for officers involved in high-profile cases like Taylor’s to face threats.
Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown Jr. in 2014, resigned from the department because of credible threats to the department and its officers.
Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014, withdrew his application from another Ohio police department after it was inundated with calls.
Louisville itself has seen intense scrutiny and outrage around police shootings in years past — the 1999 killing of Desmond Rudolph and the 2004 killing of Michael Newby, for instance — but the national attention around the officers in Breonna Taylor’s case is “on a grander scale,” Nichols said.
He supports the security detail’s response to any credible threats because the “agency has a duty to protect employees.”
But, he said, it does come at a “cost” for the community.
Officers assigned to provide security at a residence are not riding a beat or investigating violent crime, at a time when LMPD is “very, very lean,” Nichols said.
As of April 1, the department had 944 officers, according to budget documents.
That’s reduced from averages of 1,027 in fiscal year 2017-18 and 1,018 in fiscal year 2018-19, city officials wrote in the fiscal year 2020-21 executive budget.
LMPD did not respond to a Friday request for the number of officers the department had, but officials have been warning in recent years of a shrinking force.
And officials acknowledge that other officers have resigned in the wake of the protests, which began on May 28. The toll on officers, coupled with increased demands on the department for safety and security, has a cost, Nichols said.
“We feel the effect or that ‘cost,’ so to speak, more because our manpower is at such a low state,” he said.
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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Breonna Taylor: Louisville police have spent $90K on security for cops