The investigation is the second under the Biden administration targeting law enforcement agencies involved in high-profile deaths of Black residents.
WASHINGTON (CN)—Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday afternoon that the Justice Department will conduct a pattern or practice investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department, a year after officers shot and killed a Black woman who was lying in bed.
“Today’s announcement is based on an extensive review of publicly available information on LMPD conducted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division,” Garland said in a press conference. He was joined by the newly confirmed deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, and associate attorney general, Vanita Gupta.
“There are approximately 18,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in this country. In each one, dedicated officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect others,” the attorney general said. “Promoting public trust between communities and law enforcement is essential to making both communities and policing safer.”
The investigation will explore whether the LMPD engaged in discriminatory policing, unreasonable use of force and unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, as well as whether it “unlawfully executes search warrants in private homes,” like the no-knock warrant that led to the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020.
The Justice Department will also look into whether the agency used force on individuals with behavioral health disabilities or those exercising their right to free speech. Ultimately, attorneys and staff will investigate whether the police department violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Safe Streets Act of 1968 or the 14th Amendment.
The probe comes less than a week after Garland announced a similar investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, which was involved in the death of George Floyd. Former MPD officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder last week for Floyd’s death.
The Louisville investigation will be conducted by career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division and the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky. The staff aim to understand the department’s the policies, how officers are trained, and how the policies and training are implemented, as well as how officers are held accountable for deviating from their training, according to a senior DOJ official.
“The Constitution and federal law require law enforcement officers to treat all people fairly and equitably, regardless or race, disability, or participation in protected First Amendment activities,” Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The investigation we are announcing today will examine whether these laws are being violated, while also analyzing the root cases of any violations we may find.”