A report published by the US justice department following the botched police raid that killed Breonna Taylor has found that Louisville’s Metro police department routinely engaged in a pattern of excessive force that deprived people of their rights.
The litany of abuses revealed in the report comes amid a reckoning in the US with the brutality and racism of American policing.
Here are five key takeaways from the report:
LMPD uses excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints
Officers were found to use neck restraints even against individuals who were not resisting, as well as those who had already been handcuffed or otherwise subdued. It cited an incident in which an elderly Black man was “dancing in the street”, only to be grabbed and pulled to the ground by officers who then proceeded to sit on his head and neck.
Police dogs used by LMPD were also found to sometimes not release a person even after being ordered by their handlers to do so. It revealed LMPD’s canine teams were not certified by any nationally recognized canine organization until March 2021.
In addition, officers were found to have used taser guns on people not even suspected of a crime, and also to tase individuals without warning and, at times, intentionally target “vulnerable parts” of their bodies.
LMPD conducts searches based on invalid warrants
In addition to LMPD search warrant applications frequently lacking the specificity and detail needed to establish probable cause, the report found that LMPD violates the fourth amendment by executing search warrants without knocking and announcing.
The report also cited one incident in which a white woman with two one-year-old children in her car was detained by an officer who “tried to open the door so forcefully that he broke the door handle”. Despite the woman’s only infraction being speeding, the officer removed her from the car, handcuffed her and detained her in his police car for over 15 minutes while her children were left unattended.
LMPD unlawfully discriminates against Black people
The report found that LMPD treats Black people differently from white people “when they engage in the same conduct”.
For instance, the report revealed that from 2016 to 2021, Black drivers were 4.7 times as likely as white drivers to be cited for improper tags in minor traffic offenses. LMPD was also found to cite or arrest Black people for marijuana possession at nearly four times the rate of white people.
LMPD violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech critical of policing
The report revealed that a “vast majority of [anti-police] protesters were peaceful when subject to dispersal orders, force, or arrest”, adding that the scene was “often stable when LMPD used force or arrested a person who verbally challenged police action”.
It added that LMPD officers sometimes used riot sticks or chemical agents against protesters who merely passively resisted or dispersed more slowly than officers desired.
It cited an example in which a Black woman stood in a park surrounded by officers with one hand raised while the other held a plastic cup. An officer several yards away approached the woman and hit her twice in the chest with his riot stick, choked her and slammed her against a car, then on the ground. The officer only released the chokehold after another officer physically intervened.
Officers discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities
LMPD officers were found to frequently engage in unreasonable use of force during situations in which unarmed individuals appeared to be experiencing behavioral health crises such as suicidal ideation and hallucinations.
The report also revealed the officers would make jokes about people with mental illnesses and taunt individuals in crisis.
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