May 6, 2021

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Garland starts Minneapolis police investigation after Chauvin’s verdict

Garland starts Minneapolis police investigation after Chauvin's verdict

The Justice Department announced it would launch a broad investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department on Wednesday, a day after a former white officer was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, a black man, while arresting him l ‘Last year. Floyd’s death sparked a wave of nationwide protests against racial discrimination and the use of force in policing and a broader national conversation about race and justice in the United States.

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland announced the start of the investigation in a video speech from the Department of Justice, saying that the agency’s Civil Rights Division will conduct what is known as a “patterns and practices” investigation that will examine almost everyone. aspects of how the Minneapolis police operate, including recruiting and any excessive use of force.

Such civilian investigations often take months. They can result in legal settlements, known as consent decrees, which are overseen by federal judges who ensure that a police department follows mandatory reforms.

Recognizing that most “police officers do their difficult work honorably and legally,” Garland said systemic racism and unconstitutional police practices will be difficult to address and eradicate.

“Justice is sometimes slow, sometimes elusive and sometimes it never comes,” said the attorney general. “The challenges we face are deeply intertwined in our history. They did not arise today or last year. Building trust between the community and law enforcement will take time and effort from all of us. “

Last week Garland overturned a Trump-era policy that essentially blocked the department from making such legal deals, setting the stage for the Minneapolis and possibly other investigations. Former Justice Department lawyers said such investigations and subsequent consent decrees are among the best ways to deal with unconstitutional police practices.

The Department of Justice launched 25 such investigations during the Obama administration, resulting in 14 consent decrees. Such a check can be expensive and last for years. The Los Angeles Police Department issued such a decree in 2001 that lasted more than a decade and cost about $ 300 million.

Garland’s announcement came just a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death in May. The Justice Department is conducting a separate criminal investigation to determine whether the police have violated Floyd’s civil rights.

A Department of Justice spokesman Anthony Coley declined to comment on the civil or criminal investigation prior to Garland’s announcement.

The Civil Rights Survey will examine the inner workings of the Minneapolis police force, focusing on recruiting, training and patrolling policies.

While the Trump administration and police unions held unfavorable views on such extensive investigations and consent decrees, police chiefs have generally welcomed them because they ensure reforms are implemented by city leaders, who have sometimes argued that making such changes it would be too expensive. Police chiefs can point to court orders imposing reforms, as well as harsh reports from court-appointed monitors, if their departments move too slowly to address concerns.

Floyd died during his arrest on suspicion of using a counterfeit $ 20 bill in a corner store. After getting agitated as the police tried to put him in a police car, the officers grounded the handcuffed man and kept him there.

A passerby recorded Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Floyd died after pleading for Chauvin to come down, saying “I can’t breathe” – a rallying cry at Black Lives Matter protests.

Garland’s announcement followed comments Tuesday night from President Biden, whose administration said it will address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

“‘I can not breathe’. Those were George Floyd’s last words, “Biden said Tuesday.” We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We don’t have to turn our backs. We can’t turn our backs. “

The Associated Press contributed to this report.