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A new review of the Louisville Police Department by the Department of Justice revealed a damning pattern of racial abuse by its officers for years.
In a report made public on Wednesday (March 8th), the Department of Justice found that both the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Police Department and the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro government routinely engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional behavior against Black citizens and those with behavioral issues. This was done through police conducting searches using invalid warrants and excessive force on multiple occasions.
Attorney General Merrick Garland discussed the findings at a press conference in Louisville, saying the police department and local government “has undermined its public safety mission and strained its relationship with the community it is meant to protect and serve,” as the city’s acting police chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel and Mayor Craig Greenberg stood nearby.
The 90-page report of the investigation conducted by the Civil Rights Division of the department goes into graphic detail about these abuses initiated by police officers. ”Some officers have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars; insulted people with disabilities; and called Black people ‘monkeys,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘boy,’” the report stated. “This conduct erodes community trust, and the unlawful practices of LMPD and Louisville Metro undermine public safety.”
Further details show how political bias was a major component of the behavior of Louisville Police as well, with a department document from 2018 showing the adoption of the beliefs of the extremist Three Percenters. Another startling discovery was the use of excessive force involving dogs, with 71 bites being recorded over a span of 2016 to 2021. And evidence of excessive force against protesters decrying the death of Breonna Taylor in 2020 was also detailed, with people responding how police used “used riot sticks, less-lethal munitions, or chemical agents” against them. A police officer stated in an interview with DOJ officials that Taylor’s death “was a symptom of problems that we have had for years.”
Mayor Greenberg said of the report, “We will not make excuses, we will make changes.” The city has already paid out $12 million to Taylor’s family in a wrongful-death lawsuit, and council members have begun work towards the 36 recommended reforms from the report. The news from the DOJ comes after it announced a similar investigation into the Memphis, Tennessee police special units after the death of Tyre Nichols in January as well as investigations in Minneapolis, New York and Louisiana among other cities and states.