Breonna Taylor Case: Department of Justice to Investigate Louisville Police Department

Breonna Taylor was killed in her home as she slept on March 13. Breonna Taylor was killed in her home as she slept on March 13.
CBS News

The death of Breonna Taylor sparked national protests in the name of justice for the slain 26-year-old EMT.

The United States Department of Justice has announced that it will investigate Kentucky’s Louisville Metropolitan Police Department following the 2020 death of Breonna Taylor.

The announcement, made Monday by Attorney General Merrick Garland, says it will launch an investigation into the city’s police to determine if there is a pattern of discrimination or excessive force within its ranks, NPR reported.

"The investigation will assess whether LMPD [Louisville Metro Police Department] engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful, expressive activities," Garland said. "It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes."

Garland announced that the investigation is known as “pattern or practice,” which examines whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing, The Guardian reported.

The announcement comes over 13 months after Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her Louisville apartment in the early morning hours of March 13, 2020, when police were serving a “no knock” warrant while carrying out a narcotics investigation. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were the subject of the warrant. Narcotics were not found in the apartment.

Following the announcement of the Department of Justice inquiry, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer released a lengthy statement saying he “welcomed” the investigation.

“The recommendations of this DOJ review will help us continue to pursue our efforts toward being the best police department in America and producing a safer, more equitable city, for all our residents,” he said. “To the officers of the LMPD, let me repeat as I have often said – you have an unbelievably difficult job, working to keep us safe while policing equitably across our community. Good officers will welcome this announcement and see it as an exciting time to be a part of reform and transformation.”

LMPD Chief Erika Shields spoke at a press conference Monday alongside Mayor Fischer and said “I can’t say I am entirely surprised [by the investigation inquiry].” Adding that she believes in police reform and that what the DOJ is doing “will only help us in the long run as a profession.”

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, tweeted Monday afternoon, “I can’t wait for the world to see Louisville Police Department for what it really is.”

The legal council representing the Taylor family, which includes Ben Crump, Lonita Baker, and Sam Aguiar, said they “send our support to the DOJ for taking steps towards justice for Breonna and better policing in Louisville.”

In September 2020, the city of Louisville settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Taylor's family for $12 million. The settlement included a series of police reforms. Louisville had earlier also banned no-knock warrants.

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