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Report: Minneapolis police, city have pattern of violating U.S. Constitution

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Justice has found the Minneapolis Police Department and the city of Minneapolis engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

The DOJ said the city and police have agreed to resolve the department’s findings through a court-enforceable consent decree with an independent monitor, rather than through contested litigation.

The Justice Department found that the police:

  • Uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force and unreasonable use of tasers.
  • Unlawfully discriminates against Black people and Native American people in its enforcement activities, including the use of force following stops.
  • Violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech.
  • Along with the city, discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to calls for assistance.

The department opened this investigation on April 21, 2021, almost one year after the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.

The department identified and concluded that persistent deficiencies in policy, training, supervision, and accountability contribute to unlawful conduct.

“George Floyd’s death had an irrevocable impact on his family, on the Minneapolis community, on our country, and on the world,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The patterns and practices of conduct the Justice Department observed during our investigation are deeply disturbing. They erode the community’s trust in law enforcement. And they made what happened to George Floyd possible.”

The city and police cooperated with the investigation. 

The report acknowledges the changes already made and identifies additional remedial measures that the DOJ believes are necessary to address  findings.

The investigation was conducted by career attorneys and staff in the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.

The team conducted numerous onsite tours of police facilities; interviewed police officers, supervisors, and command staff; spoke with city officials and employees; accompanied behavioral crisis responders and officers on ride-alongs; reviewed thousands of documents; and watched thousands of hours of body-worn camera footage. Justice Department attorneys and staff also met with community members, advocates, service providers, and other stakeholders in the Minneapolis area.

The findings announced are the result of the department’s civil pattern or practice investigation and are separate from the department’s criminal cases against former police officers for federal crimes related to the death of Floyd.

This is one of eight investigations into law enforcement agencies opened during this administration by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department under Section 12601.

The department is investigating the Phoenix Police Department; the Mount Vernon Police Department; the Louisiana State Police; the New York City Police Department’s Special Victims Division; the Worcester Police Department; and the Oklahoma City Police Department.

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