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Review After Breonna Taylor’s Death Finds Police Discrimination in Louisville


WASHINGTON — The police department in Louisville, Ky., has engaged in a series of discriminatory law enforcement activities, the Justice Department said on Wednesday after launching a two-year investigation. year due to the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in 2020.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, appearing in Louisville with the city’s mayor and acting sheriff, announced an agreement to amend practices that he says have led to systematic discrimination tradition toward Blacks, including Mrs. Taylor. Miss Taylor, a Black paramedic, was fatally shot by police officers assigned to an anti-narcotics unit in March 2020 during a botched raid on her apartment.

In a damning 90-page report, investigators painted a grim portrait of the Louisville Metro Police Department, detailing a series of egregious abuses, including the use of firearms. excessive force; search based on the so-called ban; blocking vehicles, arresting and harassing people when sweeping the streets; and widespread forms of discrimination against Blacks and those with behavioral health problems.

“The conduct of the LMPD has undermined their mission of public safety and strained their relationship with the communities they must protect and serve,” said Mr. “This behavior is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking.”

The Justice Department’s findings, he said, were succinctly captured by an unnamed Louisville police chief interviewed during the investigation:

“Breonna Taylor is a symptom of the problems we’ve had for years.”

Justice Department investigators interviewed hundreds of officers and community members and reviewed body-worn camera video of dozens of officers in the 1,000-member division responsible for the city of Louisville. and surrounding urban areas.

Mr. Garland said his investigators had uncovered instances of blatant racism against Black residents, including the disproportionate use of traffic stops in Black neighborhoods. in the Louisville area – and even the use of nicknames like “monkey”, “animal” and “boy”.

Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights, says that targeting Blacks to block and search traffic has turned ordinary law enforcement operations into “weapons of oppression, subjugation and scared”.

But the investigation uncovered an endemic pattern of dysfunction that goes well beyond Ms Taylor’s murder, uncovering widespread problems in the way police handle investigations into domestic violence and criminal cases. sexual assault, including allegations of misconduct by law enforcement officers.

Ms. Clarke said the abuse had spread to the mentally ill in the city, who were mistreated and mocked by officers. She cites an example in which a man with a behavior problem was arrested 25 times in two years, and in some of his encounters, the police had “dramatically escalated the situation.” unnecessary and unreasonable use of force”. He later died while in custody.

The investigation found that police “regularly” used force disproportionate to the threats they faced, including the widespread use of neck restraints, stun guns and even firearms. dogs to subdue citizens. Between 2016 and 2021, 71 dog bites were recorded.

In a grisly incident detailed in the report, an officer ordered his dog to bite a 14-year-old Black boy – who was lying face down on the lawn – during a search after a violent crime. breaking into house.

“The officer removed the leash from his dog — without giving any warning — and ordered the dog to bite the teenager at least seven times,” the report said. “Even though the teen lay on his stomach and begged, ‘OK! ALRIGHT! Help! Please take the dog!’ Officers standing above him shouted orders for nearly 30 seconds while the dog nibbled on his arm.”

The child suffered severe injuries to his arm and back from the bite and was hospitalized.

Local officials said the report accurately reflected years of citizen complaints and pledged to restore trust in the department.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, a Democrat who took office in January, called the abuses outlined in the report “a betrayal of the integrity and professionalism enjoyed by the vast majority of our officers.” We bring to their work day and night.”

He added: “We will not make excuses. We will make changes.”

Mr. Garland said current and former city officials have fully cooperated with investigators and have begun making many of the 36 changes proposed in the report.

The Louisville investigation is one of eight so-called stereotypes or practices into potentially discriminatory police around the country that have been opened under Mr. Garland.

In an unrelated action, the department also announced it was opening an inspection of special units of the Memphis Police Department, at the request of city officials, after the incident. Tire Nichols’ brutal death, a Black man, during a car stop in January. The ministry is also developing a guide on how to organize and monitor such units.

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