WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is opening a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis after the guilty verdict in George Floyd’s death.
“Today, I’m 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,” said Garland in a speech.
He said the new investigation is separate from the federal criminal investigation into the death of Floyd that the DOJ had previously announced.
Garland said the probe will assess whether Minneapolis police engage in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests. It will also assess whether the department engages in discriminatory conduct and whether its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful.
“If the Justice Department concludes 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,” said Garland.
The announcement comes a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death last May, setting off a wave of relief but also sadness across the country.
The Black man’s death prompted months of mass protests against policing in the U.S.
Following the guilty verdict, there were many public reactions, including from President Joe Biden, who called the family of Floyd and their attorneys. He also delivered remarks to the country Tuesday, saying the conviction “can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.”
In his speech, Biden said reform is needed to deliver “real change,” to reduce the likelihood that police killings will happen and to ensure people of color don’t fear interactions with law enforcement.
Biden went on to call on Congress to act and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to tackle systemic misconduct in police departments. Specifically, the legislation would ban chokeholds nationwide and overhaul qualified immunity protections.