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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

AG Merrick Garland to investigate policing practices of Louisville cops in wake of Breonna Taylor's death just one week after announcing probe into Minneapolis force

 Policing in Louisville, Kentucky, following the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by officers during a raid at her home, will undergo a sweeping Justice Department probe, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday.

It will focus on whether the Louisville Metro Police Department has a pattern of using unreasonable force, including against people engaging in peaceful activities, and also will examine whether the department conducts unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, and execution of search warrants, Garland said.  

Taylor, 26, who was an emergency medical technician and had been studying to become a nurse, was roused from sleep by police who came into her home using a battering ram in March 2020.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday at the Department of Justice in Washington  announced the Louisville, Kentucky, probe as the second such sweeping investigation into a law enforcement agency from the Biden administration in a week.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday at the Department of Justice in Washington  announced the Louisville, Kentucky, probe as the second such sweeping investigation into a law enforcement agency from the Biden administration in a week.

During a raid at her home in 2020, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot, struck five times. No drugs were found in Taylor's apartment.

During a raid at her home in 2020, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot, struck five times. No drugs were found in Taylor's apartment.

The raid was part of a narcotics investigation for which a no-knock warrant was approved. No drugs were found at her home. Her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was there at the time, fired his gun once, saying later that he feared an intruder was entering the apartment. 

One officer was struck, and he and two other officers fired 32 shots into the apartment, striking Taylor five times. No drugs were found in Taylor's apartment.

Sam Aguiar, an attorney for Breonna Taylor’s family, posted a celebratory message on social media shortly after the announcement.

“Boom. Thank you,” he wrote. Aguiar and other attorneys negotiated a $12 million settlement in September with the city of Louisville over Taylor’s death. 

Brett Hankison, who was fired from the Louisville Police Department following the raid on March 13, 2020, has pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of wanton endangerment. 

Fired Louisville Police Department officer Brett Hankison (right) has had his trial pushed to next year. He was indicted by a grand jury last September for shooting into a neighbor's apartment the night Breonna Taylor (left) was killed in a botched raid

Fired Louisville Police Department officer Brett Hankison (right) has had his trial pushed to next year. He was indicted by a grand jury last September for shooting into a neighbor's apartment the night Breonna Taylor (left) was killed in a botched raid

Merrick Garland announces launching probe into Louisville Police
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He was indicted by a grand jury last September for shooting into a neighbor's apartment. 

No officers were charged in connection with Taylor's death. 

Hankison's trial has now been pushed back to February 2022 after originally being set for August this year. 

It comes after his attorney had been trying to get the trial moved elsewhere because he claimed the jury pool had been tainted because of the negative publicly surrounding the case. 

The Louisville Police Department has faced intense scrutiny over the past year.

This is the second such sweeping probe into a law enforcement agency announced by the Biden administration in a week.  

Garland, who made Monday’s announcement, last week announced a probe into the tactics of the police in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd. The attorney general has said there is not yet equal justice under the law and promised to bring a critical eye to racism and legal issues when he took the job. Few such investigations were opened during the Trump administration.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted last week of murder in Floyd’s death, but no one has been charged in Taylor’s, though her case, too fueled protests against police brutality and systemic racism. 

“It is clear that the public officials in Minneapolis and Louisville, including those in law enforcement, recognize the importance and urgency of our efforts,” Garland said. 

A part of the probe, prosecutors will speak with community leaders, residents and police officials as part of the Louisville probe and will release a public report, if a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct is discovered, Garland said. He noted that the department has implemented some changes after a settlement with Taylor’s family and said the Justice Department’s investigation would take those into account. 

Biden: "It's not enough, we can't stop here" following verdict
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A demonstrator holds a smoke bomb as he marches to protest the lack of criminal charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky on September 24, 2020. Taylor's death sparked multiple protests and some violence.

A demonstrator holds a smoke bomb as he marches to protest the lack of criminal charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky on September 24, 2020. Taylor's death sparked multiple protests and some violence.

A memorial mural depicts Breonna Taylor's name and George Floyd in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

A memorial mural depicts Breonna Taylor's name and George Floyd in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

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