Case: DOJ Investigation of Louisville Police Department

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Case Summary

On April 26, 2021, the Department of Justice announced that it had opened a pattern and practice investigation of the Louisville Metro Police Department to assess: all use of force, with a particular focus on use of force against individuals with behavioral health disabilities or individuals engaged in activities protected by the First Amendment; discriminatory practices in conducting stops, searches, seizures, and arrests; department policies, training, and supervision; and LMPD accountability…

On April 26, 2021, the Department of Justice announced that it had opened a pattern and practice investigation of the Louisville Metro Police Department to assess: all use of force, with a particular focus on use of force against individuals with behavioral health disabilities or individuals engaged in activities protected by the First Amendment; discriminatory practices in conducting stops, searches, seizures, and arrests; department policies, training, and supervision; and LMPD accountability practices. During the speech announcing the investigation, Attorney General Merrick Garland explicitly linked the investigation to LMPD's 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor, which sparked national outrage and protests. The investigation was conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and assessed law enforcement practices under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Safe Streets Act of 1968, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On March 8, 2023, the DOJ released its findings and documented significant constitutional abuses, including: dangerous use of neck restraints against people who pose no threat; allowing dogs to bite people after surrender; conducting searches without valid warrants; racially disparate enforcement against Black people; discrimination against people with behavioral health disabilities; and inadequate response to sexual assault and domestic violence. The DOJ further outlined poor accountability and supervision within the LMPD and recommended 36 remedial measures. The City agreed to negotiate with the DOJ to reach a consent decree to be entered in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky and to be overseen by an independent third-party monitor.

As of December 20, 2023, the parties have not yet entered a consent decree with the court, leading the Clearinghouse to believe that negotiations are ongoing.

Summary Authors

Jonah Hudson-Erdman (9/12/2021)

Robin Peterson (4/23/2023)

People


Attorney for Plaintiff

Clarke, Kristen M. (District of Columbia)

Killebrew, Paul (District of Columbia)

Schecter, Ben (Kentucky)

Attorney for Defendant

O'Connell, Michael J. (Kentucky)

Expert/Monitor/Master/Other

Rosenbaum, Steven H.

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:47 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Kentucky

Case Type(s):

Policing

Special Collection(s):

Traffic Stop Litigation

Key Dates

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Department of Justice

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government (Louisville, Jefferson), County

Louisville Metro Police Department (Louisville, Jefferson), County

Louisville Metro Police Department (Louisville), City

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, 34 U.S.C. § 12601 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 14141)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Unreasonable search and seizure

Freedom of speech/association

Available Documents:

Findings Letter/Report

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General/Misc.:

Aggressive behavior

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

Pattern or Practice

Racial profiling

Record-keeping

Restraints : physical

Disability and Disability Rights:

Mental impairment

Discrimination Basis:

Race discrimination

Affected Race(s):

Black

Policing:

Excessive force

False arrest

Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures

Traffic Stops