Washington, DC – U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a federal “pattern of practice” investigation into the Louisville police on Monday, less than a week after he announced the same sort of sweeping investigation for the Minneapolis police.
“Today, the Justice Department is opening a civil investigation into the Louisville-Jefferson County metro government and the Louisville Metro Police Department to determine whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of violations of the constitution or federal law,” Garland told reporters at a press conference on April 26, according to NBC News.
“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,” the attorney general explained. “It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops searches and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.”
“It will also assess whether LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race or fails to provide public services that comply with the Americans with Disability Act,” he continued. “Investigation will include comprehensive review of the Louisville Police Department’s policies and training. It will also assess the effectiveness of LMPD supervision of officers and systems of accountability.”
Garland said that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Garland would “aim to work with the city and police department to arrive at a set of mutually agreeable steps that they can take to correct and prevent unlawful patterns or practices” if civil rights violations are found, NBC News reported.
“If an agreement cannot be reached, the Justice Department has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit seeking injunctive relief to address the violations,” the attorney general said.
The investigation was prompted by the death of Breonna Taylor during a warrant service on her apartment in connection with a drug investigation.
Taylor was fatally shot when her boyfriend fired on officers who entered the apartment with on a “no knock” warrant.
No criminal charges were filed against any of the officers in connection with Taylor’s death but an officer who wildly shot into a neighboring apartment was charged with reckless endangerment for that, NBC News reported.
Two officers were terminated in connection with the incident.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he “strongly” welcomed the investigation and pledged the city’s cooperation.
Fischer said the city had already taken a number of steps to improve LMPD including having hired former Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields to run the department, NBC News reported.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) called the DOJ investigation “not inappropriate.”
On April 20, less than 24 hours after a Hennepin County jury found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd, DOJ announced that police department was under federal investigation, NBC News reported.
In Minneapolis, Garland said federal investigators will especially be looking into whether officers used excessive force during riots, engaged in discriminatory conduct, and how they treat suspects in mental health crisis.
“It will include a comprehensive review of the Minneapolis Police Department’s policies, training, supervision and use-of-force investigations,” Garland told reporters at the press conference to announce the investigation.
“Broad participation in this investigation from the community and from law enforcement will be vital to its success,” the attorney general said. “The Justice Department has already begun to reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with the MPD.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he welcomed the investigation and pledged full cooperation from the department, NBC News reported.
“The chief has been insistent that he wants to make the MPD the best department possible,” Minneapolis police said in a written statement. “With the assistance of the Department of Justice, the chief believes he will have additional support, some of which he has been seeking over the last three years, to pursue changes he would like to see in his department.”