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Justice Department to investigate Minneapolis policing practices after George Floyd's death

The Justice Department has launched a federal civil probe into policing practices in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd and the...

Posted: Apr 21, 2021 9:42 AM

The Justice Department has launched a federal civil probe into policing practices in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd and the murder convictions for ex-cop Derek Chauvin, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday.

"The challenges we face are deeply woven into our history. They did not arise today, or last year, building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us," Garland said. "But we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait."

ANALYSIS: The law delivered justice to George Floyd. America's political leaders are up next

The broad federal civil investigation will include a "comprehensive review" of the Minneapolis Police Department's "policies, training, supervision and use of force investigations," he announced.

It will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department "engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests," whether it engages in "discriminatory conduct," and whether "its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful," Garland said.

The announcement from the Justice Department comes after the guilty verdicts against Chauvin for Floyd's murder. A bystander video captured Chauvin kneeling on the neck and back of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020.

Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for manslaughter. Three other officers -- Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane -- are expected to go on trial in August.

The new civil investigation is separate from an independent federal criminal investigation into the death of Floyd, which is still ongoing, according to the attorney general.

Garland acknowledged that police officers have "difficult jobs," but added, "I strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices. Good officers welcome accountability."

Calls for policing reform

Floyd's death reignited a year of protests and reckoning about US policing, with Democratic and progressive calls to reform the system.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called the verdict in the Chauvin trial "a much too rare" step forward for Black men and said "we can't stop here." The trial and other recent police shootings have increased pressure on the Biden administration and US lawmakers to make policy changes. In the coming weeks, key Democratic and Republican lawmakers plan to engage in substantive discussions to see if a policing overhaul deal can be reached by the time of the anniversary of Floyd's death next month.

In a speech last week, Garland had vowed to examine the practices of police departments that commit civil rights violations.

Garland at the time said the Justice Department's efforts would include using grants to help police departments around the country "improve their practices through funding and technical assistance, leverage to promote policing policies that benefit communities and enhance trust."

The attorney general also rescinded a Trump-era directive that limited the usage of the civil settlements with police department that have allegations of civil rights violations.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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