DOJ investigation finds Louisville police department ‘discriminates against Black people’ after Breonna Taylor

The Louisville Metro Police Department engaged in illegal and unconstitutional practices violating civil rights, according to the findings of an investigation from the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday.

The LMPD used excessive force, no-knock warrants, and “discriminates against Black people,” according to the DoJ’s probe.

“This unacceptable and unconstitutional conduct erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing,” attorney general Merrick Garland said in a statement on Wednesday. “It is also an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line to serve Louisville with honour.”

The attorney general said in a press conference that the investigation revealed shocking misconduct, including officers calling Black people “monkeys” and “boy,” as well as police videotaping themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians and mocking people with disabilities.

The DoJ began investigating the LMPD in 2021, after officers shot and killed an unarmed Black woman named Breonna Taylor the year before during a botched no-knock drug raid.

The operation, which didn’t discover any drugs and was targeted at Taylor’s boyfriend, sparked nationwide protests.

Federal officials will now negotiate an agreement with the LMPD to remedy the unconstitutional practices identified by the DoJ.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said that for some in the city, the DoJ’s findings serve as “confirmation of complaints they’ve made about their own interactions with law enforcement, sometimes for years.”

“This is about our city, our neighbours and how we serve them,” he said on Wednesday, the LouisvilleCourier Journal reports.

In August, the DoJ charged four current and former LMPD officials with violating Taylor’s civil rights and using excessive force.

The Justice Department isn’t the only one to have found issue with the LMPD.

A 2021 independent review of the department showed that Black drivers were 60 per cent more likely to be stopped than their share in the population, and that the community had little trust in the department.

At the time, only 12.5 per cent of LMPD employeers were Black, reflecting less than half of Black people’s share in the Louisville population.

Last week, the LMPD released body camera footage of an officer shooting at two teenagers during a trespassing call.

“This officer has a history of red flag behavior,” attorney Sam Aguiar told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “The department needs to explain immediately why his prior incidents didn’t prompt corrective action and training.”