The Justice Department on Wednesday said that it found that the Louisville Metro Police Department and Louisville/Jefferson County Metro government violated the Constitution and federal law in various practices in dealing with the Black community.
Following an investigation launched in April 2021, the DOJ said it has entered an agreement with the government and police department to address many of the issues under federal law that prohibits officers from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of rights.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement: “This unacceptable and unconstitutional conduct erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing. It is also an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line to serve Louisville with honor. And it is an affront to the people of Louisville who deserve better.”
The department found the police had a pattern of using excessive force, police dogs and tasers; conducted searches based on invalid warrants; made unlawful stops and searches; discriminated against Black people in its enforcement activities; violated protected free speech activities; and discriminated against people with behavioral health disabilities.
Garland went into specifics about what the investigation uncovered about officers saying, “Some have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars, insulted people with disabilities and called Black people ‘monkeys,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘boy.’ This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking.”
Assistant Attorney General, Kristen Clarke, added, “Even when comparing traffic stops where Black and white drivers were engaged in similar behavior before the stop, Black drivers were almost 50% more likely to be searched than whites. LMPD charges Black people at higher rates than white people for the same misdemeanor offenses.”
“The findings are deeply troubling and sobering, and they compromise LMPD’s ability to serve and protect the people of Louisville,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.
The DOJ’s findings are separate from cases related to the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her home by Louisville police instituting a no-knock warrant. The Justice Department had previously filed charges against four former officers involved in that 2020 incident.