The Louisville Metro Police Department engaged in systemic civil rights abuses and excessive-force misconduct in the years leading up to the 2020 police killing of Breonna Taylor, found a federal investigation released Wednesday that is likely to force the department to undergo sweeping changes, the Washington Post reports. The Justice Department found that officers conducted unlawful and unconstitutional policing, including searches that were based on invalid warrants, executing search warrants without knocking and announcing their presence, making unlawful stops and violating the rights of people engaging in protected free speech that is critical of the police department.
The report said the Louisville police department has for years “practiced an aggressive style of policing that it deploys selectively, especially against Black people, but also against vulnerable people throughout the city. ... Failures of leadership and accountability have allowed unlawful conduct to continue unchecked. Even when city and police leaders announced solutions, they failed to follow through.” The exhaustive report said that when responding to crisis situations, the police and the Louisville city government discriminated against people who have behavioral health disabilities. At a news conference in Louisville, Attorney General Merrick Garland called the misconduct “heartbreaking” and said it “erodes the community trust that is needed for effective community policing.” The investigation took nearly two years, and the report was released just days before the third anniversary of Taylor’s death on March 13.