DOJ launching Louisville police investigation, second 'pattern or practice' probe under Biden

Garland announced a similar probe in Minneapolis last week

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Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department is launching an investigation into the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and the Louisville Police Department.

Garland said during a brief address Monday afternoon that the DOJ will be conducting a "pattern or practice" investigation into the Kentucky city's police, one year after Breonna Taylor died after being shot by a Louisville officer in her apartment who were executing a search warrant.

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"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 said.

The probe comes as Louisville has seen a surge of violent crime. According to police statistics, murders, rapes, and robberies were up more than 81% above the five-year averages in January and February. This followed a 2020 where police retirements and resignations were at a five-year high after Taylor's death. Approximately 15% of the police force left during that time.

Accompanied by newly-confirmed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Garland stated that the investigation will look into whether Lousiville police engage in "discriminatory conduct on the basis of race," as part of what will be a "comprehensive review" of the department's policies and practices.

This is the second such invesitgation that Garland will be announcing in the span of less than a week. On Wednesday, the attorney general announced a similar investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department following the murder conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd.

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Garland noted that the city of Louisville has already "taken some steps towards reform," including as part of a settlement with Taylor's family.

"We commend those measures and our investigation will take them into account," Garland said.

Similar probes were commonly used by the Obama administration, and as Garland noted when announcing the Minneapolis investigation have often resulted in consent decrees whereby police departments must comply with various measures to institute reforms regarding policies and practices.

The cities of Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore entered into consent decrees under the Obama administration following the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, respectively, despite neither situation resulting in police officers being found guilty of crimes. Chicago entered into a consent decree under the Trump administration in 2019.

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Garland said that if no agreement can be reached with Louisville, they will bring a civil lawsuit seeking court orders.

Garland had told law enforcement officials last Friday that more police departments could be under investigation following his announcement of the Minneapolis probe. 

Fox News' Jake Gibson and David Spunt contributed to this report.