Justice Department to launch probe of Louisville policing practices in wake of Breonna Taylor’s death

Race in America

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that the Justice Department would launch a civil investigation into policing practices at Louisville Metro Police Department.

Garland said the Justice Department would investigate if there is a pattern of unconstitutional or unlawful policing and practices at LMPD. The new investigation is known as a “pattern or practice” — examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing — and will be a more sweeping review of the entire police department.

This announcement comes more than a year after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in her home during a botched police raid. The department has been the center of scrutiny ever since.

“[The investigation] will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches, and seizures. As well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes,” said Garland.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville emergency medical technician, studying to become a nurse, was shot multiple times in March 2020 after being roused from sleep by police. No drugs were found, and the warrant was later found to be flawed.

A grand jury brought no charges against officers in her death, although one was indicted on a charge of shooting into a neighboring home that had people inside. Prosecutors said two officers who fired at Taylor were justified in using force to protect themselves after facing gunfire from her boyfriend. Taylor’s name has become a rallying cry to protest racial injustice nationwide. 

Garland says the DOJ hopes to reach an agreement with the city and find a way to correct any possible violations — if any are found.

“If an agreement cannot be reached, the justice department has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit seeking injunctive relief to address the violation,” said Garland.

Minutes after the announcement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called the move a win, win.

“America is at a crossroads with policing. We just happen to be the city we are talking about today. I also believe this review shows the checks and balances of our national government are working,” said Fischer.

It’s the second such sweeping probe into a law enforcement agency announced by the Biden administration in a week. Garland last week announced a sweeping probe into Minneapolis policing practices just one day after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

The Minneapolis investigation will examine practices used by police, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices and will examine the department’s handling of misconduct allegations, among other things, the person said. It’s unclear how far back that will go.

The Justice Department is already investigating whether the officers involved in Floyd’s death violated Floyd’s civil rights.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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