DOJ launches bias probes into Minneapolis, Louisville police departments — and more are likely coming

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that the Department of Justice has opened a sweeping "pattern and practice" investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department to probe whether systemic racial bias exists within the department.

The news followed the launch of a similar investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department last week following the conviction of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for his role in the death of George Floyd in late May.

Chauvin was pronounced guilty of murder and manslaughter by a jury on April 20 for kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest while Floyd repeatedly said that he couldn't breathe. The incident, which was captured on video, sparked violent protests across the country over alleged racial injustice and police brutality.

By launching two local police department probes within a week, the Biden administration appears determined to take on a much larger role in monitoring and overhauling local policing under the suspicion that systemic racism exists within the nation's police departments.

During a meeting following his announcement of the Minneapolis probe, Garland told leaders of some of the nation's largest law-enforcement organizations that more investigations would be forthcoming, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a news release announcing the Louisville probe, the Justice Department said it will assess "whether LMPD engages in discriminatory policing, and also whether it conducts unreasonable stops, searches, seizures, and arrests, both during patrol activities and in obtaining and executing search warrants for private homes.

"The investigation will include a comprehensive review of LMPD policies, training, and supervision, as well as LMPD's systems of accountability, including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition, and discipline," the release noted.

While the release made no mention of Breonna Taylor, the police-involved incident which resulted in her death almost certainly served as the impetus for the investigation.

Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was killed last March in Louisville, Kentucky, when police executed a no-knock search warrant on her home in connection to an active drug case. During the forced entry, Taylor's boyfriend, allegedly thinking officers to be home invaders, shot at them. Police returned fire, striking Taylor and killing her.

Three officers were fired from the department as a result of the incident and two of them have been indicted for recklessly firing a weapon and endangering Taylor's neighbors.

In the Justice Department news release, Garland suggests that the investigations are aimed at achieving "public trust" and "protecting the civil rights of everyone in our country."

Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, added, "The Constitution and federal law require law enforcement officers to treat all people fairly and equitably, regardless of race, disability, or participation in protected First Amendment activities. The investigation we are announcing today will examine whether these laws are being violated, while also analyzing the root causes of any violations we may find."

Louisville police set to fire two more officers involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting

The Louisville Metro Police Department has moved to fire two off the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor when police executed a "no-knock" search warrant at her home earlier this year.

Taylor was shot six times and killed during the March 13 raid. Officers had returned fire after Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot his gun mistakenly believing he and Taylor were the targets of a robbery. Police suspected that Taylor's apartment was being used to traffic drugs, but no drugs or money were found during the search.

The incident quickly ignited public outrage and fueled anti-police brutality protests around the country as well as raised questions about the efficacy and morality of no-knock warrants.

The two officers — Detective Joshua Jaynes and Officer Myles Cosgrove — were notified of their termination on Tuesday and will answer the notices in a forthcoming hearing with the department's chief, ABC News reported.

"We plan to attend the pre-termination hearing on December 31st, although I expect the result has already been pre-determined," Thomas Clay, Jaynes' lawyer, said. "I fully expect Mr. Jaynes will be terminated after the 'hearing' no matter what the evidence is to the contrary. We will appeal any disciplinary action taken against Mr. Jaynes because I believe the evidence shows he did nothing wrong."

Jaynes was not physically present at the shooting but is the officer who prepared the search warrant for Taylor's apartment.

Cosgrove, on the other hand, was present at the shooting. A ballistics analysis reportedly determined that he fired the shot that proved fatal for Taylor. His lawyer, Jarrod Beck, likewise confirmed that he had received a pre-termination notice.

In a statement, Louisville's River City Fraternal Order of Police said, "The FOP is aware that two of our members received pre-termination opportunity to respond notices today, outlining the chief's current intent to terminate their employment. In the near future both members will have an opportunity to have a hearing before the chief of police and respond to the information contained in the notices. After those hearings, when the chief makes her final determinations, our members have the right to appeal any discipline that may be issued."

To date, only one officer involved in the incident has received disciplinary action. Brett Hankison was fired by the department in June. He was also indicted by a grand jury in September on three counts of wanton endangerment for recklessly spraying bullets into the building and nearby apartments.

The department has not fired Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who also was there and fired into the apartment. Mattingly was shot in the leg by Taylor's booyfriend during the raid.