(The Center Square) – U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the Justice Department launched a sweeping investigation into practices of the Minneapolis Police Department.
Garland’s announcement came one day after a jury convicted ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd.
The investigation is separate from the civil lawsuit and criminal trial.
“Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” Garland said. “Building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us. But we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait.”
The investigation will decide whether Minneapolis officers use excessive force, engage in discriminatory conduct, or mistreat those with behavioral health problems, Garland said.
“I strongly believe good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices,” Garland said. “Good officers welcome accountability because accountability is an essential part of building trust with the community and public safety requires trust.”
Gov. Tim Walz welcomed the probe.
“Following the murder of George Floyd, I called for investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. Last June, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights took up that call, immediately launched a civil rights investigation, and obtained a groundbreaking temporary restraining order against the Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis,” Walz said in a statement.
“The state’s investigation continues and, now, under the leadership of President Biden and Attorney General Garland the United States Department of Justice is also answering the call. I welcome the federal government’s involvement in this important work, and I look forward to reviewing the results of both investigations as we work to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Walz said.
Last month, Minneapolis settled the Floyd family’s civil lawsuit for a record $27 million – exceeding the department’s total payouts from 2018-2020.
Minneapolis’ police payouts from police damages in those two years totaled $24.3 million. The most costly settlements were for police misconduct, 30 of which cost taxpayers 96% of the total cost, or $23.4 million.
The second most common reason was 18 personal injury settlements costing $547,837 and four discrimination settlements costing $387,500.
“I have been involved in the legal system in one way or another for most of my adult life,” Garland said. “I know that justice is sometimes slow, sometimes elusive and sometimes never comes. The Department of Justice will be unwavering in its pursuit of equal justice under law.”