Another American police department will go under the legal microscope, less than a week after the US Department of Justice announced an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that investigators will assess whether the Louisville Metro Police Department, in Kentucky, “engages in a pattern of practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities.”
Garland also said investigators will look at whether Louisville police engages in unconstitutional police stops, searches and seizures and whether it unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes. It was March of 2020 when Louisville police officers killed Breonna Taylor, an Emergency Medical Services worker, inside her home during a botched raid.
Days of protests erupted in Louisville and the demonstrations became violent in September, after Kentucky’s Attorney General declined to file charges against the officers involved in the raid.
Taylor’s death became part of the nationwide rallying cry during a summer of protests across the country against police brutality; a number of football players in the National Football League displayed her name on their helmets.
Typically, Justice Department investigations involve interviews of police officers and their commanders, as well as reviews of police training and interviews in the community. The department then can send its findings to a judge, who can sign off on a “consent decree”, which orders changes in the department.
Last week, less than 24 hours after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd, the Justice Department announced a similar investigation into that city’s police department.
Probes of US police departments were halted under the Trump administration; former President Trump said he felt such investigations created low morale among officers.