DOJ opens investigation into Minneapolis Police Department practices

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday the Justice Department has launched a sweeping investigation into the patterns and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department after the guilty verdict for former officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death

Federal investigators will assess the police department’s use of excessive force, including during protests, whether it engages in discriminatory conduct and the effectiveness of its current accountability mechanisms. 

The findings will become public if the DOJ concludes there is a "reasonable cause to believe the MPD has a pattern or practice of unlawful or unconstitutional policing." Garland said. To address issues, the city can enter a settlement agreement or consent decree that would impose restrictions and requirements on the police department for years to come. 

"I strongly believe good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices," Garland said. "Good officers welcome accountability because accountability is an essential part of building trust with the community and public safety requires trust."

Investigators have already reached out to community members to hear about their experiences with the MPD as well as police officers, according to the AG. 

The new civil investigation is separate from and independent of the federal criminal investigation into Floyd’s death the DOJ had previously announced. 

The announcement of the civil investigation comes one day after the jury convicted Chauvin of murdering Floyd. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. After the verdict was read, he was immediately handcuffed and taken to prison.  

Floyd died after being detained by Chauvin and other police officers outside Cup Foods on May 25, 2020. A widely-shared video taken by a teenage bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes as he cried out that he could not breathe. 

The other three police officers charged with aiding and abetting in connection with Floyd’s death will be tried together this summer