The Department of Justice announced today that its investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department revealed civil rights violations and the department and city have agreed to a consent decree to avoid litigation.
DOJ says it found that the MPD:
- 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; and
- Along with the city, discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to calls for assistance.
“George Floyd’s death had an irrevocable impact on his family, on the Minneapolis community, on our country, and on the world,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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. Today, we have completed our investigation, but this is only the first step. We will continue to work with the city and the MPD toward ensuring that MPD officers have the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively and lawfully as we work together toward meaningful and durable reform.”
The city and MPD cooperated fully with the Justice Department’s investigation. The DOJ provided a comprehensive written report of its investigative findings to the city and MPD. The report acknowledges the changes already made by the city and MPD, and it identifies additional remedial measures that the Department believes are necessary to fully address its findings.
“I know this community is still hurting and that today’s announcement may also open up old wounds,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “The Justice Department is committed to working with Minneapolis on a path forward, to constitutional policing, and stronger police-community trust. Together we can build a Minneapolis that protects the rights, safety, and dignity of all.”
DOJ launched the investigation of the Minneapolis PD in April 2021. 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 MPD facilities; interviewed MPD 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. Department attorneys and staff also met with community members, advocates, service providers, and other stakeholders in the Minneapolis area.
DOJ said it will reach out to members of the Minneapolis community for input on remedies to address the Department’s findings.
DOJ has ongoing investigations into 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. It has released investigative reports in the past year regarding the Louisville Metro Police Department, as well as the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department.
Consent decrees last until a federal judge signs off on reforms, sometimes more than a decade, and they can enrich monitors.
Minneapolis is already under a state consent decree. Officials said on Friday that they would work to ensure the state and upcoming federal oversight plans didn't duplicate efforts, NPR reports.
Attorney General Garland recognized the efforts by Minneapolis so far.
"Some important changes have already been instituted," Garland said. "Those include prohibiting all types of neck restraints, and banning no-knock search warrants."