Justice Department launches investigation into Louisville policing practices

Attorney General Merrick Garland introduced a “pattern or practice” investigation Monday into the Louisville, Kentucky, Metro Police Department, which has confronted intense scrutiny and criticism within the 13 months since officers killed Breonna Taylor in her own apartment as they served a “no-knock” warrant.

“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 mentioned at a information convention.

“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. 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,” Garland mentioned.

“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. 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,” he mentioned.

Garland mentioned that if violations are discovered, the Justice Department will “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 an agreement cannot be reached, the Justice Department has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit seeking injunctive relief to address the violations,” he mentioned.

The inquiry is the second “pattern or practice” investigation launched by the Justice Department in latest days. Last week, it opened an investigation into policing in Minneapolis, lower than 24 hours after a jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin within the loss of life of George Floyd.

That investigation will decide whether or not the police division engages in a sample or observe of policing that violates the Constitution or federal civil rights legal guidelines.

The growth was first reported by ABC News.

Taylor, 26, an emergency medical technician, was killed after police with a so-called no-knock warrant broke down the door to her house in search of proof in a narcotics investigation. The goal of the investigation was an ex-boyfriend of Taylor’s, who lived at a unique handle.

Taylor was with a brand new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when the plainclothes officers entered.

Walker, who had a license to hold a weapon, known as 911 believing the house was being invaded by criminals and opened fireplace, wounding one of many officers within the leg. Police returned fireplace, and Taylor was killed.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer pledged that the town will cooperate with the investigation at a information convention later Monday.

“I strongly welcome the investigation,” Fischer mentioned, noting that the police division had “taken a number of steps to improve police legitimacy” since Taylor was killed, together with the hiring of Erika Shields as police chief. “We have more work to do,” he mentioned.

Shields, talking after Fischer, mentioned the Justice Department’s involvement was “a good thing.”

No prison fees had been introduced in direct connection to Taylor’s loss of life. Former Louisville police Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired in June, was charged with firing blindly into an house and recklessly endangering Taylor’s neighbors.

In January, the police division fired two officers concerned within the botched raid: former detectives Joshua Jaynes and Myles Cosgrove. The metropolis of Louisville reached a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s household in September.

Civil rights teams praised the opening of the investigation.

“For far too long, killings at the hands of police have only led to one hashtag after another. But true justice comes with accountability and action. We applaud the Justice Department’s new investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department for the murder of Breonna Taylor and their ongoing practices,” NAACP National President Derrick Johnson mentioned. “No police officer or police department is above the law.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., informed reporters Monday that “there have been significant challenges there” and that it was “certainly not inappropriate for the Justice Department to take a look at it.”

Garland’s launching of the investigations marks a dramatic departure from the strategy of the Trump administration, whose Justice Department dramatically scaled again its police investigations.

Trump’s first legal professional basic, Jeff Sessions, issued a directive discouraging the usage of the pattern-or-practice authority. Garland rescinded the memorandum.

Following widespread protests after the televised police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles 30 years in the past, Congress in 1994 gave the Justice Department the authority to conduct such investigations of police departments and sheriff’s places of work. Since then, the federal government has opened 70 investigations, getting into into 40 formal reform agreements.

Some police departments have welcomed the investigations; others have balked on the authorities’s findings. Under the 1994 legislation, the federal government has the authority to get courtroom orders to require reforms.

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