The Justice Department is opening a sweeping probe into policing in Louisville, Kentucky, over the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor who was shot to death by police during a raid at her home, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday.
It’s the second such probe into a law enforcement agency by the Biden administration in a week; Garland also announced an investigation into the tactics of the police in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd.
The nation’s top law enforcement official announced the so-called “patterns and practices” probe into whether cops in Kentucky’s largest city violate people’s civil rights or routinely act in racially discriminatory ways.
“As with every Justice Department investigation, we will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead,” Garland said.
Taylor, 26, became an international symbol of police brutality when she was shot dead in a hail of 32 police bullets on March 12, 2020, when Louisville cops used a battering ram to break into her apartment using a no-knock drug warrant.
The probe is expected to be a sweeping investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department, not just an examination of Taylor’s killing. One officer faces a lesser charge of wanton endangerment in the incident, but no one has been charged directly for killing Taylor.
The Louisville probe will seek to determine if the city’s police use unreasonable force, including against people engaging in peaceful activities. It will also examine whether the police department conducts unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures and whether the department illegally executes search warrants, Garland said.
The investigation will also look at the department’s training and how officers are held accountable for wrongdoing.
The Justice Department might ask a judge to impose reforms or seek agreement with city leaders for changes.
Kentucky’s lawmakers passed a partial ban on no-knock warrants last month. The measure would only allow no-knock warrants to be issued if there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender.” Warrants also would have to be executed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.