Floyd Murder Verdict Quickly Followed by Federal Probe of Minneapolis Police

One day after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, Attorney General Merrick Garland is launching a federal investigation of the city’s police practices. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks Wednesday about a jury’s verdict in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. (DOJ image via Courthouse News)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Reaching out to a public now grappling with the rare murder conviction of a former police officer for actions taken in the line of duty, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday that George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis has spurred a federal investigation of the city’s police department.  

The announcement comes one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of all charges — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree murder — for Floyd’s death last year. 

“The jury in the state trial of Derek Chauvin has fulfilled its civic duty and rendered a verdict convicting him on all counts,” Garland said in a statement after the trial. “While the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death.” 

Garland said that the Justice Department’s investigation specifically into the death of George Floyd is ongoing. On Wednesday, he added the larger investigation to the mix: “The investigation I am announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis police department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests,” Garland said. 

Garland laid out a path for the inquiry last week. On April 16, he sent an internal memo to Justice Department staff reversing Trump-era guidance that limited the federal government’s ability to curtail civil rights abuses committed by state and city law enforcement agencies.  

The Biden administration’s new guidance on consent decrees and pattern-or-practice investigations expands the scope for police department inquiries moving forward. In Minneapolis, Garland will also investigate whether the department’s treatment of individuals with behavioral health disabilities is lawful. 

“The challenges we face are deeply woven into our history. They did not arise today or last year,” the former judge said at the press conference. “Building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us, but we undertake this task with determination and urgency knowing that change cannot wait.” 

Garland’s pattern-or-practice investigation will be overseen by the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. 

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