Apr 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department to probe Louisville's policing practices

Photo of someone holding up a sign with Breonna Taylor's photo
Photo: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Justice Department is opening a civil investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department to determine if they have engaged in "violations of the Constitution or federal law," Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday.

Why it matters: Louisville became the center of national attention last year after police officers shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her home. Her death led to a wave of mass protests across the country.

  • It’s the second "pattern or practice" investigation the DOJ has announced in a week’s span, after it said it would probe Minneapolis last week.

What he's saying: The DOJ will look at whether the department has engaged in a "pattern or practice" of civil rights violations or unlawful activity, according to Garland.

  • "Trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve" is the key to safety.
  • The DOJ will work with the department to increase transparency and accountability, Garland said. "We come to them as partners, knowing that we share a common aim."

The DOJ plans to investigate:

  • The use of unreasonable force, including incidents involving peaceful protesters.
  • Unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures.
  • Unlawful search warrants in private homes.
  • Discriminatory conduct on the basis of race.

If violations are uncovered, the DOJ will work with the department to arrive at "mutually agreeable steps" to correct and prevent unlawful practices.

  • The DOJ will follow the law and the facts "wherever they lead," Garland said.

The big picture: The announcement comes one week after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, signaling a shift in future prosecutions of police brutality cases.

Go deeper: 6 police killings occurred in the 24 hours after verdict in Chauvin trial

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