Apr 21, 2021
AG Merrick Garland Speech Transcript: Derek Chauvin Verdict, Investigation Into Minneapolis Police Dept.
Attorney General Merrick Garland gave a speech on the Derek Chauvin verdict on April 21, 2021. He announced that the Justice Department “opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.” Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Merrick Garland: (00:23)
Good morning. Like so many of you, I have closely watched the events in Minnesota. Although the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death. My heart goes out to them and to all those who have experienced similar loss. I know such wounds have deep roots and that too many communities have experienced those wounds firsthand. Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis.
Merrick Garland: (01:07)
Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. This effort will be staffed by experienced attorneys and other personnel from the Justice Department Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. The new civil investigation is separate from, and independent of, the federal criminal investigation into the death of George Floyd that the Justice Department has previously announced.
Merrick Garland: (01:50)
Congress gave the department the authority to conduct civil pattern-or-practice investigations, which looked beyond individual incidents to assess systemic failures. Those investigations allow the department to determine whether a police department has a pattern-or-practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. The investigation I am announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern-or-practice of using excessive force, including during protests.
Merrick Garland: (02:27)
The investigation will also assess whether the MPD engages in discriminatory conduct and whether its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful. It will include a comprehensive review of the Minneapolis Police Department’s policies, training, supervision, and use of force investigations. It will assess the effectiveness of the MPD’s current systems of accountability, and whether other mechanisms are needed to ensure constitutional and lawful policing.
Merrick Garland: (03:06)
Broad participation in this investigation from the community and from law enforcement will be vital to its success. The Justice Department has already begun to reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with the MPD. We also seek to hear from the department’s officers about the training and support they receive, because their perspective is essential. All these voices will help provide investigators the information they need to conduct a comprehensive assessment. All these voices will be critical to the reform efforts that will follow if the investigation determines the existence of constitutional or statutory violations.
Merrick Garland: (03:56)
If the Justice Department concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern-or-practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing, we will issue a public report of our conclusions. The Justice Department also has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit, asking a federal court to provide injunctive relief that orders the MPD to change its policies and practices to avoid further violations. Usually when the Justice Department finds unlawful practices or patterns of practices, the local police department enters into a settlement agreement or a consent decree to ensure that prompt and effective action is taken to align policing practices with the law.
Merrick Garland: (04:45)
Most of our nation’s law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully. I strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices. Good officers welcome accountability because accountability is an essential part of building trust with the community and public safety requires public trust.
Merrick Garland: (05:14)
I have been involved in the legal system in one way or another for most of my adult life. I know that justice is sometimes slow, sometimes elusive, and sometimes never comes. The Department of Justice will be unwavering in its pursuit of equal justice under law.
Merrick Garland: (05:38)
The challenges we face are deeply woven into our history, they did not arise today or last year. Building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us, but we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait. Thank you.