LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A lawyer for Detective Joshua Jaynes, who is accused of lying on the search warrant used to enter Breonna Taylor’s apartment, told Spectrum News 1 Wednesday that his client did “nothing wrong” and “does not deserve any kind of discipline, let alone a termination.”
The comments come in response to a pre-termination letter sent by interim police chief Yvette Gentry, who wrote that she intends to fire Jaynes from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).
“Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the department,” Gentry wrote. "Your conduct has severely damaged the image our department has established within our community."
The letter lays out the findings of an LMPD Professional Standards investigation “into the preparation and execution of the search warrant” obtained prior to the March 13 police killing of Taylor.
The letter includes two alleged violations of standard operating procedure. The most significant is the allegation that Jaynes “lied” on a search warrant when he wrote that he “verified through a US Postal Inspector that Jamarcus Glover has been receiving packages at” Taylor’s apartment. Glover is Taylor’s ex-boyfriend and the subject of the drug investigation that led police to her home.
“Detective Jaynes did not have contact with a US Postal Inspector, he received the information from Sergeant [Jonathan] Mattingly, who got it from a Shively Police Officer,” Gentry wrote. “Having an independent, third party verify information is powerful and compelling information. The inclusion of this in the affidavit as a direct verification was deceptive.”
Thomas Clay, Jaynes’s attorney, did not dispute the facts Gentry laid out. He did take issue with the allegation that Jaynes lied, arguing that, even if the information was recieved third hand, what he wrote in the warrant was accurate.
“This is not something that’s uncommon in this type of investigation,” he said. “Police officers are entitled to rely on statements on fellow police officers.”
Despite Clay’s defense, Jaynes has previously admitted that he could have chosen his words better on the search warrant.
“I could have worded it a little bit differently there,” he told a member of LMPD's Public Integrity Unit in May.
Clay also acknowledged that Shively police deny telling Mattingly suspicious packages were being sent to Taylor’s home.
“Somebody made a misstatement here, obviously, but it was not Joshua Jaynes,” he said. “He was entitled to rely on what Sargeant Mattingly told him.”
In her letter, Gentry also wrote that Jaynes failed to complete a search warrant plan and said he was wrong to not be present at Taylor’s apartment when the search warrant was conducted. “It is clear from this review there should have been better controls, supervision and scrutiny over this operation,” Gentry wrote.
Clay said Jaynes, who was at another raid on the same night, “was supposed to be exactly where he was."
Jaynes is scheduled to respond to the allegations on Thursday, Dec. 31. Clay said he is seeking to move the hearing to next week to allow him more time to prepare though. Either way, he said, he has little doubt about the outcome.
“I believe the chief has already determined what’s going to happen here,” he said. In a statement Tuesday night, a LMPD spokesperson said the department could not discuss the case.
Detective Myles Cosgrove, one of the three officers who fired into Taylor's apartment, also received a pre-termination letter, his lawyer Jarrod Beck confirmed to Spectrum News 1. Beck declined any further comment.
Lawyers for Taylor’s family did not respond to requests for comment about the letters, but attorney Sam Aguair, who is representing the family, wrote in a Facebook post that it’s tempting to see the action against Jaynes and Cosgrove as a “small victory.”
“But this isn’t one of them," he wrote. "If we as people act like an ass to our customers or colleagues, we get fired and rightfully so. Yet here we are, desperately needing something to feel fulfilling. So we are trying to be pleased about two men getting fired. Two men who both perjured themselves. Who both caused an innocent woman to die. Two men who just got long paid vacations while many of their own colleagues took the heat in the street every day for their actions. Two men who continue to lie. Continue to avoid prison. And continue to be saved by a stacked deck.”
The only other officer to be punished in the Taylor case is Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired in June. In September, Hankison was also the only officer to see charges related to Taylor’s killing when a grand jury indicted him on three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots into apartments adjacent to Taylor’s.
In an email sent Tuesday evening to the department's sworn officers, Gentry wrote she "had to make some tough decisions."
"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," she wrote. "To this point, every officer on this department has unequally borne the burden of decisions that you all did not make and had to work under conditions you did not create."