Louisville Police Have Routinely Discriminated Against Black People: DOJ

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The Justice Department has concluded that the Louisville Metro Police Department engaged in a pattern of using excessive force, conducting invalid warrants, and discriminating against Black people nearly three years after the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

A wide-ranging federal investigation into the Louisville Police Department by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division was prompted by the March 2020 death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman fatally shot by officers who conducted a botched, no-knock raid at her apartment, per NBC News.

"Breonna Taylor was a symptom of problems that we have had for years," one Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) leader told federal investigators.

The DOJ report states that while officers "have difficult jobs," the department hasn't given "officers and other employees the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively and lawfully." Louisville officers have received "deficient training, substandard facilities and equipment, and inadequate support for mental health and wellness," the DOJ found.

The report also concluded that officers routinely used racial slurs about and against Black citizens, calling them "monkeys," "animal," and "boy" in some instances.

"Some officers demonstrate disrespect for the people they are sworn to protect," the report states. "Some officers have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars; insulted people with disabilities; and called Black people 'monkeys,' 'animal,' and 'boy.' This conduct erodes community trust, and the unlawful practices of LMPD and Louisville Metro undermine public safety."

The report noted that officers' actions "do not happen in a vacuum" with "segregation, poverty, and violence" affecting policing in the racially segregated city of Louisville. The DOJ also found that the police department, which is 81% white, unlawfully patrolled neighborhoods that were predominately Black.

"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 states. "LMPD cites people for minor offenses, like wide turns and broken taillights, while serious crimes like sexual assault and homicide go unsolved."

According to the DOJ, the city has agreed to resolve the constitutional violations found by federal officials.

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