Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee demanded Thursday that Attorney General William Barr open an investigation into whether there is a "pattern" of "unconstitutional" conduct by the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned to the ground by his neck while he was handcuffed by a white officer earlier this week.
The officer who choked Floyd as he begged for air, Derek Chauvin, and three other Minneapolis officers involved were fired. The incident sparked nationwide condemnation from people of all political stripes, violent protests and looting in Minneapolis, led the University of Minnesota to sever its relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department and induced Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the area's local congresswoman, to call for murder charges for Chauvin.
Floyd's death also prompted the House Judiciary Committee's Democrats to send a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking it to investigate the actions of local authorities involved in the Floyd case, as well as two other recent killings of African-Americans.
"We the undersigned Members of the House Judiciary Committee ask that the Department of Justice... investigate the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), including whether it is part of a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct by the MPD," the letter reads.
President Trump had already said he asked the FBI and DOJ to investigate the Floyd killing, but the Democrats' request appears to go further to request a review of the police department's conduct over a period of time.
It also asks the DOJ to take similar actions regarding the death of Brionna Taylor, an EMT from Louisville, Ky., who was killed when local police allegedly executed a no-knock warrant on the wrong house, and Ahmaud Arbury, a Georgia man who was shot and killed in late February near the coastal city of Brunswick while jogging.
The request differs slightly in the Arbury case because he was not killed by law enforcement officers, but instead by white men who, according to police reports, said they believed Arbery was behind several recent break-ins in the area. Because one of the white men involved in Arbury's killing had close ties to law enforcement, the case has seen two prosecutors replaced for potential conflicts of interest. Three men have been charged with murder over Arbury's killing.
"The killings of Mr. Floyd, Mr. Arbury, and Ms. Taylor all illustrate the need for national evidence-based policing and training standards that promote safe and humane local, state and federal law enforcement practices, as well as an increase in federal resources to incentivize reform," the letter says.
It continues: "The fair, transparent, and equal administration of justice is a bedrock principle for citizens to maintain the trust requites to govern themselves in an ordered society. However, public trust in the blind administration of justice is being seriously tested by recent high-profile killings of African Americans during attempts to enforce state laws as well as by the lack of transparency regarding how and why those killings occurred."
Signatories of the letter include committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Rep. Hank Johnson, Jr., D-Ga., potential Joe Biden vice-presidential pick and Orlando, Fla.'s first female police chief, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., and 21 others.
Fox News' Nick Givas and Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.