The U.S. Justice Department has reportedly launched an investigation into the Louisville Metro Police department’s practices and whether they engaged in a pattern of wrongdoing and abuse of authority.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the probe will determine if the agency engages in a pattern of “violations of the Constitution or federal law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference on Monday (April 26).
“There are approximately 18,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in this country. In each one, dedicated officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect others,” said Garland in a statement released prior to the announcement. “Promoting public trust between communities and law enforcement is essential to making both communities and policing safer.”
It isn’t clear whether the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was shot and killed by Louisville police in March 2020 during the execution of a no-knock search warrant, played a role in the probe. Garland, however, did acknowledge the city’s record $12 million settlement with her family.
The Courier-Journal reports the investigation will examine if Louisville MPD used unreasonable force, including during peaceful protests; engaged in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, including unlawful search warrant executions on private residences; practiced racial discrimination; or violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead,” said Garland. “If violations are found, the Justice Department will aim to work with the city and police department to arrive at a set of mutually agreeable steps that they can take to correct and prevent unlawful patterns or practices.”
If an agreement can’t be reached post-investigation, the Justice Department has the ability to bring a civil suit to address any violations. Garland said on Monday that Mayor Greg Fischer and police Chief Erika Shields have “pledged their support and cooperation,” according to the Courier-Journal.