The review, undertaken after a specialized unit killed Breonna Taylor in a botched raid in 2020, paints a damning portrait of a department in crisis.WASHINGTON — The police department in Louisville, Ky., engaged in a yearslong pattern of discriminatory law enforcement practices, the Justice Department said on Wednesday after conducting a two-year investigation prompted by the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by the police in 2020.Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, appearing in Louisville alongside the city’s mayor and acting police chief, announced an agreement to overhaul policing practices he said had led to systemic discrimination against Black people, including Ms. Taylor. Ms. Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot and killed by police officers assigned to a drug enforcement unit in March 2020 during a botched raid of her apartment.In a damning 90-page report, investigators painted a grim portrait of the Louisville Metro Police Department, detailing a variety of serious abuses, including excessive force; searches based on invalid and so-called no-knock warrants; unlawful car stops, detentions and harassment of people during street sweeps; and broad patterns of discrimination against Black people and people with behavioral health problems.“The L.M.P.D.’s conduct has undermined its public safety mission and strained its relationship with the community it is meant to protect and serve,” Mr. Garland said.The Justice Department’s findings, he said, were succinctly captured by an unnamed Louisville police leader interviewed during the investigation:“Breonna Taylor was a symptom of problems we have had for years.”Justice Department investigators also found widespread problems in the way the police handled investigations of domestic violence and sexual assault cases, including allegations of sexual misconduct or domestic violence against law enforcement officers.Mr. Garland said that his investigators also uncovered instances of blatant racism against Black Louisville residents, including the disproportionate use of traffic stops in Black neighborhoods — and even the use of racist epithets like “monkey,” “animal” and “boy.”Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said that the targeting of Black people for traffic stops and searches turned conventional law enforcement practices into “weapons of oppression, submission and fear.”The Louisville investigation is one of several so-called pattern or practice investigations into potentially discriminatory policing around the country that have been opened under Mr. Garland.The investigation and report, which are likely to lead to a consent decree by both parties, are separate from the federal criminal investigation into the conduct of the members of a drug enforcement unit who broke down the door to Ms. Taylor’s apartment, killing her as they engaged in a shootout with her boyfriend.Some of the reforms outlined by Mr. Garland have already been undertaken. After Ms. Taylor’s death, the department banned “no-knock” warrants, which allowed officers to break into a residence without warning. Officials have also expanded their use of counseling and training for officers and appointed an inspector general to review the department’s practices.“We will not make excuses, we will make changes,” said Mayor Craig Greenberg of Louisville, a Democrat who took office in January.Mr. Greenberg vowed to embrace an overhaul of the department’s practices.He called the abuses outlined in the report “a betrayal of the integrity and professionalism that the overwhelming majority of our officers bring to their job every day and every night.”
Similar investigations are underway into the Minneapolis Police Department in connection with the killing of George Floyd and the Louisville Police Department’s actions leading up to the shooting of Breonna Taylor.WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Thursday opened an investigation into the Louisiana State Police over accusations that officers had engaged in abusive and discriminatory behavior, including the fatal beating of a Black motorist three years ago.Under President Biden and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, the department has expanded its use of such intensive inquiries, known as pattern-or-practice investigations, which are meant to determine whether a state or local law enforcement agency uses “excessive force, biased policing and other unconstitutional practices.”The investigation, to be conducted by the department’s Civil Rights Division, was opened after a preliminary review included reports of officers repeatedly using excessive force, often against people pulled over for minor traffic offenses, who were “already handcuffed” or were “not resisting” arrest, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke told reporters in Baton Rouge, La., on Thursday.The department also received reports that officers had targeted Black residents and people of color, including “disturbing information about the use of racial slurs and racially derogatory terms,” she said.Ms. Clarke is currently overseeing similar investigations into the Minneapolis Police Department in connection with the killing of George Floyd, the Louisville Police Department’s actions leading up to the shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and other investigations of police conduct in Phoenix and Mt. Vernon, N.Y.The investigation in Louisiana was prompted by two brutal beatings, both captured on video, that occthree years ago, inciting an outcry from civil rights leaders.In May 2019, Ronald Greene was pulled over by white officers, shackled, stunned with a Taser, put in a chokehold and punched in the face. The troopers then left him handcuffed and face down for more than nine minutes. He later died.The police originally claimed he had been resisting arrest, but The Associated Press later published body camera footage of a bloodied Mr. Greene, 49, pleading with them, saying: “I’m your brother! I’m scared!”Mr. Greene’s death was ruled accidental and was attributed to cardiac arrest, Renee Smith, the Union Parish coroner, told The A.P., adding that his file mentioned the car crash but not a struggle with the police.The family commissioned an independent autopsy that found severe injuries to Mr. Greene’s head and skull, and several wounds to his face.Three weeks later, a white officer with the Louisiana State Police attacked another Black motorist, Aaron Larry Bowman, after a routine traffic stop in Monroe, slamming a heavy flashlight repeatedly into Mr. Bowman’s head and chest and leaving him with a broken jaw, broken ribs and head lacerations.The trooper, Jacob Brown, 31, of Rayville, La., was arrested last year on charges of aggravated second-degree battery and malfeasance in office, and later quit the force.Mr. Bowman reacted to the news of the investigation by first expressing his gratitude, then asking, “Does this mean I’ll get justice soon?” according to his lawyer, Donecia Banks-Miley.Understand the Trials Stemming From George Floyd's DeathCard 1 of 5The murder of George Floyd.