U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on April 27 that the U.S. Justice Department will investigate police in Louisville, Kentucky.
On March 13, 2020, 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor was fatally shot after three plainclothes members of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) entered her apartment searching for a male friend during a raid. Taylor had no involvement in criminal activity.
The three White officers, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, forced their way in and shot Taylor to death. The Justice Department will now investigate whether the department has carried out a pattern of civil rights abuses. In June, Louisville banned ‘no-knock’ warrants under legislation entitled ‘Breonna’s Law.’ Other states have passed similar laws.
On April 21, Attorney General Garland also announced an investigation of the Minneapolis police department in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“The investigation I am announcing will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests,” Garland said on April 21. “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.”
A shooting in June 2020 by Louisville police and members of the Kentucky National Guard resulted in the death of BBQ chef David McAtee after they shot into a crowd of people. McAtee’s death may also end up on the radar of the Justice Department during any investigation.
Hundreds of protesters were arrested after the murders of Taylor and McAtee.
“All of these steps will be taken with one goal in mind: to ensure that policing policies and practices are constitutional and lawful. That is the same goal as that of our investigation in Minneapolis and of every pattern-or-practice investigation that the department undertakes,” the Attorney General said.
More investigations of police departments could be coming.
(Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at <LBurke007@gmail.com> and on twitter at @LVBurke.)