LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Two officers who received termination letters Tuesday related to the Breonna Taylor case will have the opportunity to plead their cases Monday before being officially fired.
Louisville Metro Police Department detectives Joshua Jaynes and Miles Cosgrove received the letters of intent Tuesday from the department’s interim chief Yvette Gentry, as first reported by WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters.
From there, the process can take months.
During the pre-termination hearing with Gentry, the officers, accompanied by their attorneys, will have the opportunity to tell her why they believe they should not be fired.
If the chief sticks to her decision and proceeds to fire the officers, a letter is then sent to the Metro Police Merit Board.
The officers have 10 days to appeal the termination from the effective date with the Merit Board.
The Merit Board is made up of five members appointed by the Mayor, with a maximum of three belonging to the same political party and serve for a period of four years.
The board also includes two police officers, chosen by the department’s officers themselves. The officers serve for a period of two years and participate and vote in officer disciplinary cases only.
Once an appeal is entered, the officers are entitled to a Merit Board hearing within 60 days of termination. The officer, such as former LMPD Detective Brett Hankison who is facing charges related to the Taylor case, can waive the 60 requirement if for example, there is a pending legal case or investigation.
Hankison used to be one of the two officers who’d been voted in to serve on the board. His membership ended once he was fired by LMPD.
The hearings are like a miniature trial, bound by law. For example, those interviewed are under oath and the board also has subpoena power.
During the hearing, the County Attorney’s Office argues against the officer, presenting their case for why the termination should remain. The officer’s attorneys also have a chance to argue for their client. Their attorneys are paid for by union dues from their membership in the Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP does not directly participate in the hearings, President Ryan Nichols explained, saying their main focus is make sure that the process is correctly followed.
Kentucky state law, KRS 67c.301 allows for public employees, such as police officers, due process.
It’s not just state law that enables for this process to happen.
Public employees are also covered by the so-called “Loudermill rights” which state that most public employees have a property right in their jobs. The Laudermill rights come from a Supreme Court case from 1985 involving the Cleveland Board of Education and a school security guard.
The list of rights state public employees can’t be fired without due process and guarantees the employee the right to present their case.
There are also provisions in the Police Officer’s Union contract that set similar rules in place.
If the Merit Board votes to proceed with the termination, an officer then has the right to appeal to the circuit court, who then reviews the decision.
Thomas Clay, the attorney for Jaynes, said his client did nothing wrong and should not lose his job. Clay said he plans to do whatever it takes to clear his client’s name and get his job back.
Both Jaynes and Cosgrove will meet with Gentry on Monday for the pre-termination hearing at an undisclosed location.
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