The Minneapolis Police Department engaged in the systemic use of excessive force and discriminated against racial minorities in the years leading up to the police killing of George Floyd, in 2020, federal authorities said Friday. In a scathing 89-page report resulting from a more than two-year federal civil rights investigation, the Justice Department excoriated the Minneapolis police force as an agency that put officers and local residents at unnecessary risk and failed to act upon repeated warnings about biased behavior, reports the Washington Post. The report criticizes the Minneapolis police for: using “dangerous tactics and weapons” — including neck restraints and Tasers — against people for petty offense or no crimes; punishing residents who criticized the police; patrolling neighborhoods differently based on their racial makeup; and discriminating against those with behavioral health disabilities.
The report called the department’s accountability structures “fundamentally flawed,” with internal misconduct investigations getting lost in an “opaque maze” as senior managers dismissed legitimate complaints without investigation and routinely mischaracterizing the allegations. “Our investigation found that the systemic problems in MPD made what happened to George Floyd possible,” the report stated. The Associated Press reports that Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the report in a session with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Brian O’Hara and others. The “pattern or practice” investigation was launched in April 2021, a day after former officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, killing of Floyd, who was Black. A similar investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights led to a “court-enforceable settlement agreement” to address a long list of problems, with input from residents, officers, city staff, and others. Frey and state Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero signed the agreement in March. The state investigation found “significant racial disparities with respect to officers’ use of force, traffic stops, searches, citations, and arrests.”