DOJ launches probe into Louisville's police practices in wake of Breonna Taylor's death

Justice Department Breonna Taylor
Posted at 1:58 PM, Apr 26, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Department of Justice is launching a civil investigation into the policing practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department, as well as the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government.

The police department has been highly criticized since the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by Louisville officers during a raid at her home in March of 2020.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the investigation on Monday, saying the purpose of the probe will be to determine whether LMPD “engages in a pattern or practice of violations of the constitution or federal law.”

Watch Garland's remarks below:

“Today’s announcement is based on an extensive review of publicly available information about LMPD conducted by the Justice Department’s civil rights division,” said Garland.

Garland said the investigation will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including in respect to people involved in “peaceful expressive activities.”

Garland said the probe will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, as well as if the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.

“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 Disabilities Act,” said Garland. “The investigation will include a comprehensive review of the Louisville Police Department’s policies and training. It will also assess the effectiveness of LMPD’s supervision of officers and systems of accountability.”

The investigation will be led by the DOJ’s civil rights division. If the DOJ determines there is a reasonable cause to believe there’s a pattern of constitutional or statutory violations, Garland said they’ll issue a public report of their conclusions.

“If violations are found, 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.”

In his remarks, Garland didn’t mention Taylor name much, only when speaking about the settlement the city came to with the 26-year-old’s family last year.

“Louisville has already taken some steps towards reform through its settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor, as well as through other measures. We commend those measures our investigation will take them into account,” said Garland.

Ben Crump, the attorney representing Taylor's family, issued a statement in response to the DOJ's investigation.

“Today, with Attorney General Garland's announcement of a Justice Department civil investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department, our legal team and the family of Breonna Taylor send our support to the DOJ for taking this step towards justice for Breonna and better policing in Louisville. We are hopeful that this investigation will bring the ugly patterns and practices of Louisville law enforcement into the light. While it remains a disgusting miscarriage of justice that the state and Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron did not have this same dedication to accountability and transparency, it is gratifying to see it at the federal level. We hope that the DOJ looks beyond Kentucky and also launches investigations into the countless other departments across the U.S. that demonstrate similar patterns of racism and corrupt policing.”

Monday’s announcement came just days after Garland revealed the DOJ is also conducting a similar civil investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

“When we announced the investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department last week, we received an immediate pledge of support from Minneapolis Mayor (Jacob) Frey and MPD Chief (Medaria) Arradondo,” said Garland. “We have briefed Louisville Mayor (Greg) Fischer and LMPD Chief (Erika) Shields on our investigation in Louisville. They too have pledged their support and cooperation.”