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Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday that the Justice Department is opening a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the killing of George Floyd.
“Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address, potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” Garland said.
“Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” he said in remarks at the DOJ, without taking questions from the press.
“This effort will be staffed by experienced attorneys and other personnel from the Justice Department Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota,” he continued.
The Justice Department is already investigating whether Chauvin and the other officers involved in Floyd’s death violated his civil rights. The investigation announced Wednesday is known as a “pattern or practice” and will be a more sweeping probe of the entire department and may result in major changes to policing there, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
The investigation will examine practices used by police, including the use of force, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices. It will also look into the department’s handling of misconduct allegations among other things. It’s unclear whether the years under investigation will begin when Floyd died or before.
The Minneapolis Police Department is also being investigated by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which is looking into the department’s policies and practices over the last decade to see if it engaged in systemic discriminatory practices. The police department and the city did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Garland’s announcement.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by Minneapolis police last summer, sparking protests and riots across the country and calls to look into police brutality.
Yesterday’s verdict was met with strong bipartisan support, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praising the outcome. Top Democrats have called for additional legislative action on criminal justice reforms to address excessive force.
With Associated Press
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