The U.S. Department of Justice announced the findings of a sweeping investigation of Louisville Metro and Louisville’s police department Wednesday, the result of a nearly two-year probe following the killing of Breonna Taylor.
The investigation, announced in April 2021 after nearly a year of protests over Taylor’s killing at the hands of LMPD officers, aimed to assess “all types of force” used by local police, including potential violations of the First Amendment, whether the department engages in discriminatory policing and whether it worked in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Here is the latest on the report and reactions to the findings:
‘The time for terrorizing the Black community with no repercussions is over.’
Reactions to the DOJ report are coming from all over including officials, community leaders and the family of Breonna Taylor.
We collected some key moments and quotes from the Wednesday press conference and from community members about the findings.
The findings of the Department of Justice’s investigation
At the press conference, Garland said the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Louisville had agreed to negotiate a consent decree to establish a reform.
The report laid out violations that had been found in the department during the 2020 protests and during unrelated events, including traffic stops that disproportionately targeted Black residents to training sessions that exhibited racial bias.
Updates from Wednesday’s press conference
The 90-page report released includes 36 recommended remedial measures and a lengthy list of reported violations by the department, including discriminatory policing and use of excessive force.
Violations, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said, include a pattern of practice that did not comply with the Constitution and federal law, including excessive force such as unjustified neck restraints and use of police dogs and tasers against people who posed no imminent threat and searches through invalid warrants that were executed without officers announcing their presence. Officers routinely discriminated against Black people and violated the rights of people engaged in protected speech, she said, and “disproportionately subjecting Black residents to unlawful policing.”
“This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking. It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing, and it is an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve with honor – and it is an affront to the people of Louisville,” Garland said.
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, who said the report “paints a painful picture about LMPD’s past,” said some people will be “surprised or horrified” by the findings, while others will not be surprised “because they see this report is confirmation of complaints they’ve made about their own interactions with law enforcement, sometimes for years.” Others, he said “will look at this report and they’ll be eager to find some way to minimize it or dismiss it.”
“They’ll say it’s all politics, or that you could find examples like this in any city,” Greenberg said. “No – this is not about politics or other places. This is about Louisville. This is about our city, our neighbors and how we serve them.”
Community meeting Wednesday night
Greenberg said Louisville plans to host a virtual community meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday night to discuss the findings.
Department of Justice releases investigation on LMPD, Louisville Metro
The full investigation is 90 pages long and outlines violations in the department along with recommended changes.
What happened in the Breonna Taylor case
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician in Louisville, was shot and killed by LMPD officers serving a no-knock warrant at her apartment in the early morning hours of March 13, 2020. Her death was a key factor behind national protests that summer over police killings of Black Americans and was at the center of months of demonstrations in Louisville, and Wednesday’s announcement comes nearly three years after the fatal shooting.
After Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and his team of prosecutors presented the shooting to a grand jury, just one officer who fired their weapon that night was indicted locally – Brett Hankison, on wanton endangerment charges stemming from rounds he fired that entered a neighbor’s apartment. He was acquitted in March 2022.
In August 2022, however, four former officers were indicted by a federal grand jury – Hankison, on excessive force charges, along with Joshua Jaynes, Kelly Ann Goodlett and Kyle Meany, who were accused of taking steps to falsify the warrant used in the raid at Taylor’s apartment. Goodlett later pleaded guilty, while charges against the other former officers are still pending.
Steve Conrad, who was LMPD’s chief at the time of Taylor’s death, was fired in June 2020 after local barbecue stand owner David McAtee was shot and killed by law enforcement officials breaking up a crowd near his business on an early night of the protests. He was fired by then-Mayor Greg Fischer after it was determined officers were not wearing operational body cameras at the time of that shooting. Fischer faced intense pressure to step down amid the 2020 protests but remained in office until his third and final term expired at the end of 2022.
The city of Louisville later settled with Taylor’s family for $12 million and agreed to a number of police reforms.
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