Over a year after the police murder of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced a “sweeping investigation” into the city’s police practices.
Taylor was shot to death by police given the right to break into her home by a “no-knock” search warrant on March 13, 2020, based on authorities’ assertion that she had once known someone who was suspected of committing a crime. But unlike Derek Chauvin, the former police recently convicted of murder for murdering George Floyd, no charges were ever brought against the three police officers, Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison, who issued the warrant and were ultimately responsible for her death.
The investigation, called a “pattern or practice” investigation will look at the systems responsible for Taylor’s death, according to the Guardian:
“It will focus on whether the Louisville metro police department engages in a pattern of unreasonable force, including against people engaging in peaceful activities. It will also examine whether the police department conducts unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures and whether the department illegally executes search warrants, Garland said.”
Under scrutiny will be officer training, the systems by which officers are held accountable for police violence, and a closer look at “whether LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race”
Just last month, Kentucky passed an effort to curb the use of no-knock warrants, limiting their use to those for whom the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender” and restricting the hours during which they may be served from 6 a.m. to 10 pm. Taylor was shot to death just after midnight as she slept inside her apartment.
And while actually investigating police departments that murder the citizens they have presumably sworn to protect seems like a long-overdue first step towards addressing America’s epidemic of police violence, it’s not readily clear what long-term effects or reformational changes might come of such an investigation.