A protester holds a sign depicting Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers during a protest against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Denver, Colorado on June 3, 2020.
Jason Connolly | AFP | Getty Images
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that the Department of Justice will open an investigation into the practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky.
The announcement comes days after Garland announced the DOJ would investigate the Minneapolis Police Department after Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, whose killing in custody sparked protests worldwide.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was killed last year by Louisville police officers who came to her home with an arrest warrant and fired 32 bullets. Taylor’s friend Kenneth Walker shot officers he said were an intruder.
Garland said the investigation was spurred by a comprehensive review of public information.
“As with any Justice Department investigation, we will obey the facts and laws wherever they lead,” Garland said.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington on April 26, 2021.
Almond Ngan | Reuters
A grand jury indicted one of the officers in the raid, Sgt. Brett Hankison, of willful endangerment charges last year. His trial has been postponed this month through 2022. Two other officers involved were not prosecuted.
Taylor’s death is one of the most famous police killings in recent years and has prompted calls to curb the use of arrest warrants and other controversial tactics.
Garland said the DOJ will consider the terms of a $ 12 million settlement reached between Louisville and Taylor’s family last year. The settlement stipulates that the police will carry out certain mandatory reforms.
Justice Department sample or practice examinations in police departments can lead to settlements or consent orders between the DOJ and the Department that often require independent police surveillance and other changes.
The DOJ under former President Donald Trump has largely restricted the use of consent decrees, but Garland reversed that policy earlier this month. President Joe Biden has promised Congress to promote major reforms of national policing.
In a statement Monday, Derrick Johnson, NAACP president, praised Garland’s move.
“For too long, police murders have resulted in one hashtag at a time. But true justice comes with accountability and action,” Johnson said. “We applaud the Justice Department’s new investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department for the murder of Breonna Taylor and its ongoing practices. No officer or police department is above the law.”