2nd Police Department under Investigation Following Chauvin Conviction

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday announced a sweeping investigation of the police department and local government in the southern U.S. city of Louisville, Kentucky, where officers last year shot and killed Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency technician, during a bungled raid on her home.The “pattern or practice” investigation is the second of a police department following the conviction last week of former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin in the death of African American George Floyd while in police custody last year.Garland said the investigation into the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and Louisville Metro Police Department will determine whether police officers engaged in unconstitutional and unlawful practices. Among other things, federal investigators will examine whether local police engage in unreasonable use of force and unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures.He said the Justice Department has briefed Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD chief Erika Shields on the investigation. Both officials pledged to cooperate, the attorney general said.The announcement came more than a year after Taylor, 26, died on March 13, 2020 after three Louisville Police officers fired on her while serving a no-knock warrant. The use of such controversial warrants will be examined as part of the federal inquiry.FILE – This undated photo provided by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.Only one of the three Louisville police officers was later charged by a state grand jury.  The case remained little known until Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020 thrust it into the public debate and protest movement over police brutality and racism.Last week, Garland announced a similar “pattern or practice” investigation into the embattled police department in the midwestern U.S. city of Minneapolis, a day after a jury found Chauvin guilty of two murder counts and one manslaughter count in the killing of Floyd.As with the Minneapolis department probe, the goal of the new investigation is “to ensure that policing policies and practices are constitutional and lawful,” Garland said.The two investigations mark a shift in Justice Department priorities under President Joe Biden and reflect his administration’s intent to use “pattern or practice” investigations to combat civil rights violations and other abuses in police departments. Such investigations were widely used during the Obama administration, but the tactic was subsequently abandoned under Biden’s immediate predecessor, Donald Trump.Garland said that at the end of the investigation, the department will seek to negotiate “mutually agreeable steps” to prevent abuse but if an agreement can’t be reached, it will file a civil lawsuit.The Obama administration investigated 25 police departments, negotiating 14 consent decrees. None was done under the Trump administration. 

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