The Justice Department launched a wide-ranging “pattern or practice” investigation of Louisville’s police department on Monday, in the wake of last year’s police shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference that the civil investigation into the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department is to determine “whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law.” The investigation, he said, “will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities” as well as if it “engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures” or “unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.”

Taylor was killed in her apartment by LMPD officers in March 2020 while they were executing a search warrant. Two Louisville detectives connected with the incident were fired in January, five months after Officer Brett Hankison was similarly dismissed for blindly firing 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment during the search.

Under the probe, if the Justice Department concludes there is reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern or practice of constitutional or statutory violations, it will issue a public report and will “aim to work with the city and police department to arrive at a set of mutually agreeable steps” that can be taken to correct problems. If an agreement cannot be reached, the department has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit seeking injunctive relief to address violations.

Justice Department launches investigation into Louisville PD’s policing practices


Editorial credit: Mark Van Scyoc /

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