DOJ to Probe Louisville Police After Breonna Taylor Shooting

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The Justice Department is opening an investigation into the Louisville Police Department, which has faced scrutiny since the fatal shooting of a Black woman, Breonna Taylor, in her home, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Monday.

“Promoting public trust between communities and law enforcement is essential to making both communities and policing safer,” Garland said in a brief appearance at the Justice Department.

The probe into the police department in Kentucky marks the second significant “pattern or practice” investigation into police that the department has opened under Garland, reviving a tool largely abandoned during the Trump administration. Garland announced last week that the department opened an investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing.

An organization representing police chiefs responded to Garland’s announcement by cautioning that such investigations should be “a collaborative effort” and warning that the consent decrees that sometimes follow can prove costly and burdensome.

“Our communities don’t want less cops, they want better cops, and investments must be made in terms of training, recruitment and data collection,” said Laura Cooper, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “Above all, involvement and buy-in from everyone in the department is a must because without it, change and modernization won’t take root.”

Taylor, 26, was fatally shot in her apartment on March 13, 2020, when White plainclothes police officers forcibly entered it while investigating drug-dealing operations. Her killing became part of a larger movement protesting racial bias in police departments that led to nationwide demonstrations in the summer of 2020 and a greater focus on systemic racism in the U.S.

A grand jury decided not to file murder charges against the officers involved in the shooting, though Louisville police eventually agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million and vowed to change their practices after the botched raid.

Garland said the Louisville Metro Police Department has taken some steps to make needed reforms and that city officials have pledged their support and cooperation as the Justice Department investigates.

Garland said the new inquiry “will be taken with one goal in mind: to ensure policing policies and practices are constitutional and lawful. That is the same goal of our investigation into Minneapolis and of every pattern or practice investigation that the department undertakes.”

The investigation into Floyd’s killing came after a White former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of killing Floyd, an unarmed Black man, when he knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes in May 2020. The video of that killing ignited a summer of rage and the greatest racial reckoning in the U.S. since the 1960s.

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