Investigation spurred by Breonna Taylor’s death finds police violated constitutional rights including “using excessive force, unlawfully discriminating against Black people, conducting searches based on invalid warrants”
The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that the Louisville police engaged in “a pattern” of civil rights violations following an investigation into the police department in the aftermath of the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
Among the Justice Department’s findings were that the Louisville Metro Police Department used “excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers,” conducted searches based on invalid warrants, and executed no-knock warrants (both of which ultimately resulted in Taylor’s death), and unlawfully discriminated against Black people.
“The Justice Department has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that Louisville Metro and LMPD engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitutional rights of the residents of Louisville — including by using excessive force, unlawfully discriminating against Black people, conducting searches based on invalid warrants, and violating the rights of those engaged in protected speech critical of policing,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement Wednesday.
“This unacceptable and unconstitutional conduct erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing. It is also an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line to serve Louisville with honor. And it is an affront to the people of Louisville who deserve better. The Justice Department will work closely with Louisville Metro and LMPD to negotiate toward a consent decree and durable reforms that protect both the safety and civil rights of Louisville’s residents.”
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division opened its investigation on April 26, 2021, 13 months after Taylor was killed; Police fatally shot Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician and Black woman, while she was asleep in bed during the March 13, 2020 raid. Her killing sparked nationwide protests.
The Justice Department’s investigation into the Louisville police department is separate from the federal case against four now-former cops involved in Taylor’s death.
In addition to the law banning no-knock warrants named after Taylor, the Justice Department identified other “remedial measures that the department believes are necessary to fully address its findings,” and has “entered into an agreement in principle with Louisville Metro and LMPD, which have committed to resolving the department’s findings through a court-enforceable consent decree with an independent monitor, rather than contested litigation.”