AG Garland announces investigation of Louisville PD's policing practices

The Louisville police shooting of Breonna Taylor prompted heavy scrutiny.

April 26, 2021, 2:02 PM

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday announced an investigation into the policing practices of the Louisville Police Department.

"The investigation will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful, expressive activities," Garland said. "It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops searches and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes."

The Louisville Police Department has faced heavy scrutiny over the past year following the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a black emergency technician who was killed during a botched raid on her Kentucky apartment after three plainclothes officers entered her home while serving a no-knock warrant. Only one of the three officers involved in the raid has faced criminal charges.

PHOTO: Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old certified emergency medical technician, was killed in March when police executed multiple search warrants at her home.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old certified emergency medical technician, was killed in March when police executed multiple search warrants at her home.
Bianca Austin

Garland mentioned that the department's investigation will take into account both LMPD's settlement with Taylor's family as well as their reform measures put forward in the course of the last year.

Garland added the investigation will also probe whether the department engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race and whether it fails to provide services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The investigation, according to Garland, will review the LMPD's policies and training practices and will look into the department's supervision of offices and systems of accountability.

"As in every Justice Department investigation we will follow the facts and the law, wherever they lead," Garland said. "If there is reasonable cause to believe that there was a pattern or practice of constitutional or statutory violations, we will issue a public report of our conclusions."

Garland said the department has already received a pledge of support from both the Louisville Mayor and the LMPD's chief of police.

The Louisville Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PHOTO: US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C on April 26, 2021.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C on April 26, 2021.
Mandel Ngan/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

This marks ​the Justice Department's second 'pattern or practice' investigation of a police force in the past five days alone.

Garland announced the department opened a civil investigation last week into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a pattern of using excessive force in arrests or at protests and whether the department's officer's engage in discriminatory conduct.

"It is clear that the public officials in Minneapolis and Louisville, including those in law enforcement, recognize the importance and urgency of our efforts," Garland said Monday. "We come to them as partners, knowing that we share a common aim."

Garland has said repeatedly that he sees such probes as a potentially valuable oversight tool to ensure police accountability.

It indicates a significant shift from how the department wielded such powers during former President Donald Trump's administration. During those four years the department opened only one such investigation into the Springfield, Massachusetts, Police Department's narcotics unit, whose officers were found to have routinely used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

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