(The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday issued a scathing report on its investigation of the Louisville Metro Police Department, finding, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland, “reasonable cause” that the law enforcement agency in Kentucky’s largest city has frequently committed civil rights violations and acted in a way that has frayed its relationship with the communities it’s sworn to serve.
Garland was in Louisville to release the report and announce the DOJ reached an accord with city officials to address the issues uncovered in the nearly two-year-old investigation. That investigation stemmed from the police killing of Breonna Taylor in her home three years ago. Taylor was shot as officers carried out a no-knock warrant and returned gunfire after Taylor’s boyfriend fired first, believing it was a home invasion.
Last year, the DOJ filed charges against four officers pertaining to the incident, claiming officers lied to acquire the warrant to raid Taylor’s apartment and used excessive force.
Taylor’s death, as well as the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis two months later, triggered large-scale demonstrations against the police in the Midwestern cities and elsewhere across the country.
Besides carrying out no-knock warrants, the primary findings from the report concluded that LMPD uses excessive force, executes searches based on invalid warrants, conducts illegal searches, discriminates against the Black community as well as those enduring mental health issues and retaliates against individuals exercising their rights to protest peacefully against the department.
“This conduct is unacceptable,” Garland said. “It is heartbreaking. It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing.”
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said the city will overhaul its police practices across the board in light of the DOJ’s findings, starting with how it recruits officers and how it equips, monitors and utilizes them daily across the city.
Greenberg, who became mayor in January, said the report “paints a painful picture of LMPD’s past” and shows a way forward.
“We need our officers to stop, prevent and solve crimes while treating people with dignity and respect because everyone, from every community and every background, deserves that,” the mayor said. “And as we’ve just heard, too many people who deserved respect and dignity didn’t get it from officers of the law sworn to protect them. Instead, they received contempt and abuse.”
Sadiqa Reynolds, who served as the Louisville Urban League president and CEO at the time of Taylor’s killing and the subsequent demonstrations, said the DOJ report validated the protestors’ claims “and then some” in a tweet Wednesday.
“We were right to be in the streets!” she said. “We were right to raise our voices! We were right to disrupt the status quo!”