The Justice Department issued a scathing critique Wednesday on the Louisville Metro Police Department after a nearly two-year review it launched into the force following the botched raid that killed Breonna Taylor.
The review, looking at whether the Louisville Metro Police Department used excessive force, found that officers use unreasonable tactics including unjustified neck restraints, police dogs and tasers. The report also found that the police department executes search warrants without knocking and announcing.
“For years, LMPD has practiced an aggressive style of policing that it deploys selectively, especially against Black people, but also against vulnerable people throughout the city,” the report said.
“LMPD cites people for minor offenses, like wide turns and broken taillights, while serious crimes like sexual assault and homicide go unsolved,” the report added. “Some officers demonstrate disrespect for the people they are sworn to protect. Some officers have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars; insulted people with disabilities; and called Black people ‘monkeys,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘boy.’”
Everything you need to know about the Breonna Taylor case
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the results of the investigation Wednesday.
“This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking. It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing and it is an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve Louisville with honor,” Garland said at a news conference. “And it is an affront to the people of Louisville who deserve better.”
The DOJ found that “police officers’ forcible and violent entry into a person’s home strikes at the heart of the constitutional protection against unreasonable government intrusion.”
“But Louisville Metro’s and LMPD’s unlawful conduct did not start in 2020. As an LMPD leader told us shortly after we opened this investigation, ‘Breonna Taylor was a symptom of problems that we have had for years,’” the report said.
The department’s leaders failed to curb the “unacceptable” conduct, the report found.
“Failures of leadership and accountability have allowed unlawful conduct to continue unchecked,” DOJ said. “Even when city and police leaders announced solutions, they failed to follow through. In LMPD, officer misconduct too often goes unnoticed and unaddressed. At times, LMPD leaders have endorsed and defended unlawful conduct.”
As a result of the misconduct, the police department has paid more than $40 million to resolve claims of police misconduct over the past six years, according to the report.
The Justice Department review was launched after the botched raid that killed Breonna Taylor.
Four current and former Louisville police officers involved in the deadly raid – including detectives who worked on the search warrant and the ex-officer accused of firing blindly into her home – have been federally charged with civil rights violations. One of the former officers, Kelly Hannah Goodlett, pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsify an affidavit for a warrant to search Taylor’s home and to covering up the false document by lying to investigators.
Under the Biden administration, the Justice Department significantly ramped up efforts to address abusive policing, and the systemic issues that contribute to police misconduct. The Justice Department has initiated several similar probes, including one on Wednesday into the Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department.
This story has been updated with additional details.