Criminal Justice

Louisville, Kentucky, police department discriminates and uses excessive force, DOJ concludes

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A review of Louisville, Kentucky, policing after the 2020 death of Breonna Taylor in a botched raid has led the U.S. Department of Justice to conclude that the city and its police department have engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional conduct.

The wrongdoing includes a pattern or practice of using excessive force, discriminating against Black people in enforcement activities, and conducting searches based on invalid warrants, according to a March 8 press release from the DOJ.

The report also found deficiencies in policies, training, supervision and accountability.

The DOJ has entered into an agreement in principle with the city and the police to resolve the department’s findings through a court-enforceable consent decree with an independent monitor.

The report found that the Louisville Metro Police Department:

    • Discriminated against Black people with unjustified stops, searches and arrests.

    • Used dangerous neck restraints against people who pose no threat.

    • Deployed police dogs against people who don’t pose a threat and allowed dogs to continue biting people after their surrender.

    • Used bodily force that is disproportionate to the threat.

    • Sought search warrants without the specificity needed to establish probable cause.

    • Executed search warrants without knocking and announcing.

    • Did not adequately investigate officers accused of sexual misconduct and domestic violence.

AP Merrick Garland March 2023_800px U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a press conference at the Louisville Metro Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 8. At left is Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, and at right is Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Photo by Timothy D. Easley/The Associated Press.

The city has already stopped no-knock raids and agreed to other reforms as part of a $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family.

Publications with coverage of the findings include the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.

See also:

ABA Journal: “High-profile killings of unarmed Black people spark calls for reform” “Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and America’s cruel justice equation”

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