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Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced that the Justice Department will open a sweeping investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a "pattern or practice" of discriminatory policing practices.

Why it matters: The federal probe, which will also examine MPD's handling of misconduct allegations against officers, could result in significant changes to policing in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

  • The announcement comes a day after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's killing, setting off celebrations across the country.
  • The Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr announced a separate federal civil rights investigation into Floyd's death last year, and reportedly empaneled a grand jury as it called new witnesses in February, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: "Yesterday's verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis," Garland said in an address Wednesday.

  • The investigation will assess whether MPD "engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests," and feature a "comprehensive review" of the department's "policies, training, supervision and use of force investigations," according to Garland.
  • DOJ will also investigate whether MPD's treatment of those with "behavior health disabilities" is unlawful. Garland said experienced staff from DOJ's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota have already begun the process of reaching out to both officers and members of the public as part of the review.

The bottom line: If DOJ uncovers evidence of "a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing," it will issue a public report on its findings, Garland said. The agency also has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit compelling MPD to change its policies.

Flashback: While Barr considered opening a discriminatory practices probe into MPD soon after Floyd's murder, he refrained from doing so in fear that it "could cause further divisions in law enforcement amid widespread protests and civil unrest," AP reports, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

Go deeper: AG Garland reverses Trump-era policy on consent decrees for police abuses

Go deeper

Updated Apr 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

"Believe your eyes": Prosecutors make closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

Updated Apr 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Jury in Derek Chauvin trial heads into deliberation

The jury of Derek Chauvin's trial has gone into deliberation Monday. The judge told instructed them to "reach a just verdict regardless of what the consequence might be."

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial is seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades.

Derek Chauvin found guilty of all 3 charges in George Floyd's murder

Photo: Screenshot of CNN

A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death.

Why it matters: This rare conviction of a police officer may come to be seen as a defining moment in America's collective reckoning with issues of race and justice.