One day after a jury of 12 convicted Derek Chauvin on murder charges—and where Ma’Khia Bryant, a 15-year-old girl was shot and killed by Ohio police– the U.S. Justice Department has launched a civil investigation into possible patterns and practices of discrimination and excessive force among the police department in Minneapolis.
Newly christened Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the civil inquiry today, Wednesday, April 21, as the first “pattern or practice” investigation in the Biden administration. Upon entering the role, AG Garland pledged to facilitate more trust between the police and communities affected by them. After the results of the Derek Chauvin trial, this seems to be a concerted effort by the federal government to determine if the former engaged in patterns of excessive force.
“Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” Garland said in remarks at the Justice Department.
This investigation is separate from the previously announced federal criminal inquiry into George Floyd’s death, and there isn’t any indication that this inquiry will broaden to assess patterns and practices of all U.S. police departments. Instead, the investigation will examine the use of excessive force, including during protests, and the MPD’s accountability systems. “If the Justice Department concludes that there’s reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing, we will issue a public report of our conclusions,” Garland said.
Last week, Garland revoked a Trump-era memo that made it more difficult for the Justice Department’s civil rights lawyers to reach consent decrees with state and local governments over policing practices. There is no word yet as to how this will affect or influence the direction of this investigation, but with the ability now open to seek court approval for independent monitors, this may be a positive step forward.