Justice Department launches investigation into Louisville police department

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The Justice Department has opened a pattern and practice investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday. This is the second such investigation into policing practices unveiled by the department in less than a week. 

Last week, Garland announced a review of the Minneapolis Police Department the day after a jury in Hennepin County, Minnesota, found former MPD officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the death of George Floyd

“The investigation will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities,” Garland said Monday. “It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures as well whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.” 

The Louisville Police Department has been in the national spotlight since the death of Breonna Taylor last year. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black medical worker, was shot to death by officers in the early hours of March 13, 2020. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said police did not announce their arrival and he fired a shot because he believed someone was trying to break in. 

Justice Department Breonna Taylor
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, Monday, April 26, 2021, as associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. listen. 

Mandel Ngan / AP

No officers have been charged directly for her death, but one, Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment while the other two officers who opened fire were fired but not charged

Garland said the investigation into the Louisville police and the one into the Minneapolis have the “same goal.” 

Earlier this month Garland reinstated the use of consent decrees used in some cases as a resolution to federal probes of police departments, after it was rolled back by the Trump administration in 2018 under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

Monday’s announcement already doubles the number of investigations into policing practices than that undertaken by the previous administration. The Justice Department during the Trump presidency opened one such pattern and practice investigation into the Springfield Police Department in Massachusetts, concluding that their narcotics unit engaged in excessive force in violation of the 4th Amendment. 



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