U.S. TO PROBE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE.
Seeks `pattern' of excess force in Minneapolis
WASHINGTON • The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday launched a sweeping civil investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis following a jury's verdict that former city police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.
The probe is the first major action of Attorney General Merrick Garland, after President Joe Biden vowed to address systemic racism in the U.S. It will consider whether the department engages “in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests,” he said.
He added it will also examine whether the department “engages in discriminatory conduct and whether its treatment of those with behavioural health disabilities is unlawful.”
Chauvin's conviction was a milestone in the racial history of the U.S. and a rebuke of law enforcement's treatment of Black Americans. Floyd's death was one in a long list of police killings that prompted nationwide protests.
“I know such wounds have deep roots. That too many communities have experienced those wounds firsthand. Yesterday's verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” Garland said.
Garland has previously said he will make cracking down on police misconduct a priority. A separate criminal Justice Department investigation into whether the officers involved in Floyd's death violated his civil rights continues, Garland said.
“The city welcomes the federal investigation announced today and has already begun working with the Department of Justice team both in Washington D.C. and in Minnesota to help them quickly get this investigation organized and underway,” city attorney Jim Rowader said in a statement.
The Minneapolis City Council also signalled its support for the probe, saying it welcomed “the opportunity for the Department of Justice to use the full weight of its authority to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable for any and all abuses of power.”
On Wednesday, Garland said Justice Department officials had already started to reach out to community groups in Minneapolis to ask about their experiences with law enforcement and also plan to speak with police officers there about the training and support they receive.