Feds Say Louisville Police Department Engaged In Racist Policing Pattern
A federal probe, prompted by the police killing of Breonna Taylor, found that the Louisville Metro Police Department has a pattern of violating civil rights, conducting unlawful searches and discriminating against Black people and people with disabilities, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced March 8.
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division launched the pattern or practice investigation in April 2021. At that time, an LMPD leader told investigators that “Breonna Taylor was a symptom of problems that we have had for years,” Garland said, adding that the probe’s findings “bear that out.”
Garland said Louisville and the city’s police department agreed in principle to negotiate a consent decree with the DOJ. Under these federal court-approved deals, the parties agree to a road map to correct policing violations.
The NAACP praised the DOJ for addressing police reform and urged Congress to also take action.
“Today marks a meaningful step toward police accountability and — should Congress now decide to step up — police reform. The findings from their investigation into the Louisville Police Department provide clear evidence for what we’ve already known - we are dealing with a rotten tree, not a few bad apples,” NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement sent to BET.com.
Among its findings, the report said the LMPD: unlawfully discriminates against Black people in enforcement activities; uses excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers; unlawfully stops, searches, detains, and arrests people; conducts searches based on invalid warrants; and unlawfully executes warrants without knocking and announcing.
Taylor’s case was a prime example of police using invalid warrants and failing to properly execute a home search.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician, and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were in bed when officers executed a botched no-Knock warrant on March 13, 2020. The couple was startled when officers, using a battering ram, broke down their door. Three officers fired shots after Walker, fearing a home invasion, shot an officer in the leg. Taylor was struck several times and died at the scene.
The police raid found no drugs at Taylor’s apartment, and the target of their investigation, her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, was already in custody at the time of the shooting. Former detective Kelly Hannah Goodlett later admitted in federal court that she and another officer falsified an affidavit to search Taylor’s home.
According to the report, Black motorists were more likely to be searched during traffic stops, and officers used neck restraints, police dogs and Tasers against people who posed no threat.
The investigation found that some officers have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars, insulted people with disabilities, and called Black people “monkeys,” “animal,” and “boy.”
Garland said, “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 Louisville with honor.”
Also on Wednesday (March 8) the DOJ announced that it will review the Memphis Police Department’s use of force and other policies in the aftermath of the police fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black motorist, in January.