Today, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded its years long investigation of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD), finding that there is reasonable cause to believe that the LMPD has routinely violated the constitutional rights of residents of Louisville, Kentucky.
The LMPD already had a long history of inflicting violence and trauma on Black Louisville residents, and attracted national scrutiny when its officers killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman, while executing a no-knock warrant in her own home.
After Ms. Taylor’s killing, Louisville residents took to the streets to protest the LMPD’s violence and attempts to cover up its officers’ misconduct. But instead of treating those protesters with dignity and respect, the LMPD waged war, bombarding peaceful protestors with tear gas, flash bangs, and pepper balls over several days. In July 2020, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY), and law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP filed a complaint against the City of Louisville, challenging the LMPD’s use of force to silence peaceful protesters and journalists throughout the summer and specifically challenging the use of tear gas and other indiscriminate weapons against whole crowds of people. That case remains ongoing.
“LMPD's continued refusal to stop using chemical weapons against the residents of Louisville was already indicative of their lack of respect for basic constitutional rights and civil liberties of the people they’re sworn to protect,” said Corey Shapiro, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky. “These findings underscore what many have said for a long time: there is a dire need for broad scale reform of LMPD and their practices.”
“We commend the Justice Department’s extensive investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department. As these findings make clear, the LMPD has a long history of using violence and intimidation to violate the constitutional rights of Louisville residents,” said LDF President and Director-Counsel Janai Nelson. “There is a long road ahead to ensure that the people of Louisville can feel safe in their own city. And while law enforcement accountability is critical, it is equally important to provide impacted community members with relief for all that they have endured.”
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislature and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms. For additional information, visit our website at: www.aclu-ky.org.