Published on: Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Louisville Metro Police Department routinely uses excessive force and practices “an aggressive style of policing” against Black people, the Justice Department said Wednesday after an investigation launched following the botched raid that killed Breonna Taylor. (Attorney General remarks available here).

In its report, the DOJ had “reasonable cause to believe” that the city government and police department engaged in “a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law.”

The 90-page report found LMPD:

  • Uses excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints and unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers
  • Conducts searches based on invalid warrants.
  • Unlawfully executes warrants without knocking and announcing.
  • Unlawfully stops, searches, detains and arrests people during traffic and pedestrian stops.
  • Violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech critical of policing.
  • Discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities while responding to crises.

The scathing assessment paints a shocking portrait of racist and abusive conduct in the Louisville police that harkens to practices more commonly seen in some southern cities during the civil rights era.

Investigators identified a pattern of police leaders in recent years commissioning reports that documented disproportionate violence directed toward African Americans and ignoring the findings or burying the internal reports. The abuses extended to the treatment of the disabled and even sex assault victims.

“Some officers demonstrate disrespect for the people they are sworn to protect. Some officers have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars; insulted people with disabilities; and called Black people ‘monkeys,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘boy.’”

The DOJ said Louisville Metro and LMPD fully cooperated in the investigation and agreed to resolve the department’s findings through a “court-enforceable consent decree with an independent monitor.”