Justice Department opens policing probe over Breonna Taylor's death

The investigation, announced on Monday, concerns the Louisville-Jefferson County subway government and the Louisville subway police department. It’s known as a “pattern or practice” – there will be a check to see if there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing – and there will be a broader review of the entire police force.

Specifically, it will focus on whether the Louisville Metro Police Department engages in a pattern of inappropriate violence, including against people engaging in peaceful activities, and it will also investigate whether the Police Department is conducting unconstitutional stops, searches, and seizures, and whether the department is unlawful Executing search warrants, Garland said.

The investigation will also look at the training officers receive, the system by which officers are held accountable and, among other things, “assessing whether LMPD is racially discriminatory,” he said.

Garland announced last week an investigation into police tactics in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd. The attorney general has stated that there is still no equal justice under the law and promised to keep a critical eye on racism and legal issues when it is adopted. Few such investigations were launched during the Trump administration.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s murder last week, but no one was charged with Taylors, though her case has also fueled protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Her death sparked a national debate over the use of so-called search warrants, which allow officials to enter a home without waiting and announcing their presence. The warrants are generally used in drug cases and other sensitive investigations where the police believe a suspect may be destroying evidence. In recent years, however, there has been increasing criticism that the arrest warrants are being overused and abused.

Prosecutors will speak to community leaders, residents and police officers as part of the Louisville investigation and issue a public report if a pattern or practice of unconstitutional behavior is discovered, Garland said. He noted that after reaching an agreement with Taylor’s family, the department made some changes and said the Justice Department investigation would take these into account.

“It is clear that officials in Minneapolis and Louisville, including law enforcement, recognize the importance and urgency of our efforts,” Garland said.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a partial ban on no-knock warrants last month. The measure would only allow arrest warrants to be issued without knocking if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the “alleged crime is a crime which, if convicted, qualifies a person as a violent criminal” . Warrants would also have to be executed between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

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