Mar 9, 2023

DOJ Releases Findings in Two-Year Probe of LMPD Transcript

DOJ Releases Findings in Two-Year Probe of LMPD Transcript
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Attorney General Merrick Garland reveals findings two years after investigating the patterns, practices and unconstitutional policing at LMPD. Read the transcript here.

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Doug Profit (00:19):

This is a live special report. Breaking news here today at 11:00 AM from WHAS 11 News. In five days, this city will mark three years since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by Metro Police during a raid based on a warrant that was determined to be falsified. Now nearly two years since the US Department of Justice announced it’s major investigation at LMPD and Metro Government, in just a few minutes right here live, we’re going to be getting the findings of that nearly two year long probe. Hello everybody. Thanks for joining us. I’m Doug Profit.

Shay McAllister (00:47):

And I’m Shay McAllister. It’s patterns and practices investigation, which looked into rights protected by the Constitution and also whether police treated all people fairly regardless of race. Right now, the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland is in Louisville at Metro Hall, ready to release the report at any minute. We do have multiple crews there. We’re giving you a live look. We’re going to bring you that live report just as soon as it gets started. But first, here’s what we know about the investigation. The Department of Justice announced their pattern or practice investigation into Metro Government and Louisville Metro Police Department back on April 26th of 2021. This investigation is separate from the department’s investigation into the Breonna Taylor case.

Doug Profit (01:28):

Over the last two years, investigators have been looking at a whether LMPD uses excessive force and proper searches and traffic stops or racially discriminatory policing. They’ve also reached out to community groups and people who live in Louisville to learn about their experiences and LMPD. That’s been key. Those investigators were here in Louisville and they were going to community meetings in the west end of the city and throughout the community talking to people specifically about their experiences. And Shay, we do know that this investigation could go back at least five years. And in an article that appeared in the New York Times on Sunday, top police officials were quoted in that as saying they do expect the results coming out today to be a scathing indictment on LMPD.

Shay McAllister (02:11):

If we do learn that it is going to happen that way, this is the changes that we could be expecting. LMPD leaders have previously said they expect changes in five key areas. The management structure may be revised. There could be new policies including crisis management and use of force. Changes are also expected for staffing, recruitment, and promotions training, data collection, analysis, and auditing.

Doug Profit (02:38):

Well, again, we are with you here at 11:00 if you are just joining us here at the moment, because we are awaiting a news conference from Louisville Metro Hall, where the US Attorney General has actually come to Louisville. When he announced this investigation almost two years ago in April, he did it from Washington. Now he has come to Louisville overnight. He’s going to be appearing with Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, and of course the interim police chiefs and others here in just a few minutes.

Shay McAllister (03:07):

And we know that that could happen any second. We’re going to be taking you to that just as soon as it happens. But first, let’s start about the most serious action the Justice Department could take against Metro Government and LMPD. That, of course would be a consent decree. It’s an agreement between the DOJ and the department, which would involve federal oversight of the department and reforms. The consent decree is a broad, extensive blueprint for positive change. It could encompass sweeping department-wide reforms that understandably could require a couple of years to fully accomplish. If the DOJ believes a consent decree is warranted, they will negotiate the agreement with LMPD and city officials.

Doug Profit (03:44):

Now, a federal judge also must approve on all of this, the agreement, and then a federal monitor will then be assigned to oversee the reform process here in Louisville. Consent decrees have been used in cities like New Orleans, Baltimore, and Ferguson, Missouri. Joining us live here as we are waiting for the live news conference from Louisville Metro Hall is Jay MacMichael Brown, the former Kentucky Justice Secretary who is now with Simmons College of Kentucky. You are heading up the law department there. You’ve been very involved in this. Of course, you were involved in the David [inaudible 00:04:19] investigation from the state, which could very well come out today. We might hear more about that. What are you expecting? You’ve been following this closely. We don’t have the results yet, but the US Attorney General is in Louisville. What does that say to you?

Jay MacMichael Brown (04:32):

Well, it tells me that this is one of the most significant moments for the Department of Justice in recent history. The practice of doing these DOJ investigations have been suspended by President Trump, and then they were reinstated when Garland became the Attorney General under President Biden.

So this may be one of the first and most important ones. And of course, the summer of 2020 highlighted really a lot of things that had been happening in the country and particularly Louisville became the epicenter for this particular movement, Black Lives Matter, police reform, police conduct. And I think his presence is a major, major statement for not only the Department of Justice, but it’s going to set a blueprint for Mayor Greenberg and our chief when we name a permanent chief of how this department’s going to go forward.

Shay McAllister (05:26):

We know that they’re looking not only into the police department, but also city government. What type of things do you think they were evaluating?

Jay MacMichael Brown (05:33):

Well, one, I would have to believe it’s going to be what is commonly referred to as transparency, but it’s really accountability and how do these incidents get reported up? Who gets the information? And then who was charged with acting on whatever information comes out of a particular instance. So the fact that they are expanding a little bit beyond the police department into government reaction and that’s principle. No one expects government to be perfect, but they do expect government to be accountable and responsive.

Doug Profit (06:06):

Again, we’re waiting for the news conference at Metro Hall to start any minute. So if I have to interrupt you, please forgive me. That might happen here in just a second. We’re going to continue talking. When former mayor, Greg Fisher hired Erica Shields, part of their mission was to start putting into place some of the reforms that they thought the Justice Department might call for. Do you think that is going to weigh into the decision here today? And is that blueprint going to actually help move forward once we learn the enormity of this?

Jay MacMichael Brown (06:33):

Well, one the latter. I do think the blueprint will help. And actually, if you think about it comes at a very opportune time for not only Louisville but for the new administration. They’re getting ready to introduce a budget. This could have monetary impact on where to spend your money. Budgets are the principle way that a government expresses its public policy, just like your budget, what you spend your money on is what’s important. So we’ll see what comes out of that. We’ll also see organizational changes that might be needed. And again, reporting and accountability up and down the chain so that we don’t have a situation like what occurred with breonna Taylor, where unfortunately weeks went by before certain information came out, and then the credibility of the department was brought into question.

Shay McAllister (07:19):

We have a new interim police chief. We have a new mayor. How difficult is it to start your role, this big role under something like this?

Jay MacMichael Brown (07:27):

Well, the interim police chief has now been here for a couple of years, so she’s had an ample opportunity to reach out to the community and to get to know the police department and its organization. It’s going to be a matter now as if she will be selected to move forward on this. So I don’t think any of the things that come out in this report are going to be a surprise to her.

Doug Profit (07:49):

Consent decree. That’s what we’re all going to be listening for. One of the key things we want to know from Merrick Garland. Is that a point of paralysis for a police department that’s now 300 officers short and still trying to rebuild? Or can they use that as a way in any possible way by any stretch of the imagination to recruit more people to come to Louisville as a department making its way forward under a new day?

Jay MacMichael Brown (08:12):

I don’t think it has to be a point of paralysis, but I think part of it is going to be what the report says about the leadership that was in place during the point in time that they’re investigating, what part of that leadership is still in place, how it’s organized, how it assigns officers. We saw the situation in Memphis where they had tried a new police technique that had just a tragic outcome, and we are going to have to look to see what they said.

Doug Profit (08:41):

The Tyre Nichols?

Jay MacMichael Brown (08:42):


Doug Profit (08:43):

The falsified warrant. We have to talk about that. That has since come out. That all came out as you said, it took us weeks. It really took months for the real story to come out in the Breonna Taylor case. Where do you see that playing into this, that they met in a garage to get their story straight?

Jay MacMichael Brown (08:59):

Well, that was inexcusable behavior, but I think what you go back to is how was the incident reviewed at the time that it happened? And I’ve been in the position, albeit with state police, you are in charge of an agency or you have high level accountability. Something happens, last night you asked a question, we had an officer involved shooting. What happened? We had an officer was shot. Okay, what else happened? Well, we had a civilian who was killed. The first thought might be, oh, so the individual who shot the officer was killed? No, it happened to be an unarmed female. It happened to be an unarmed black female in the wake of a no-knock warrant. If that doesn’t raise a ton of red flags, I don’t know what would. And that’s when the deep dive into all of the circumstances behind that incident should have started immediately.

Shay McAllister (09:59):

We know a big part of this, Doug mentioned it was these community conversations actually talking to people who live in Louisville about what it’s like interacting with LMPD. How important is that in this entire investigation when you’re talking about policies, practices, use of force, how important are those community conversations, people’s actual experiences?

Jay MacMichael Brown (10:19):

Well, those are things that many times don’t get accounted for. And so this is the DOJ getting a chance to hear. And of course, they’ll weigh the credibility of any information they get. But more importantly, you have to look at it on the flip side is after they get this information, they can put out a blueprint of how do you interact with your own community? And then at the end of the day, what are we all hoping for? We’re hoping for trust. There’s no question that we do need law enforcement. There’s no question that we do need police, but they have to protect and serve like their model says.

Doug Profit (10:53):

Now, our newsroom staff apparently has just gotten a copy of the report. They’re telling me that the federal consent decree is not listed specifically in the report. Doesn’t mean Merrick Garland might not come out here in just a second ago and say we’re putting it all the umbrella. But that’s an initial thing that we are seeing. We are going through those documents now released by the Department of Justice. I’d like to go back to the warrant because it’s all going to come back down to that. And we’re just being told two minutes now we’ll have that live news conference. The protests were underway June, 2020, the first week. Of course, that last end of May weekend, Shay was out there covering them in the middle of it. We had had the night of rioting. Within the first week of June, I talked to the retired Justice Janice Martin, whom very well, and first off she said to me, she was a local judge, the warrant, I have questions about the warrant, I’m concerned about the warrant.

I want to know what was the details in that warrant. And later when we moved forward, she pointed out to me Breonna Taylor was what? Fourth bottom. She was listed as fourth in the priority list there. And she told me what I would’ve done as a judge is tell the officers you serve this warrant at 10:30 in the morning when she’s walking to her car. There’s no need for what’s listed here. When she looked at the document into the specific details, there is no need to be doing a midnight raid into the apartment. Is that a point that you seized upon and wondered today?

Jay MacMichael Brown (12:24):

Well, I think going back and looking to what led up to the warrant, Breonna Taylor, as I understand the facts, there was no indication that she herself was involved in drug activity. There was also a situation where had a stakeout and they were talking about packages being delivered. Did a stakeout show that there were packages that were recently delivered? Did the stakeout show that there any of the real perpetrators that were after had visited the apartment in recent days or was any reason to believe that there was a threat from inside? And so of course now we’re seeing a lot of reforms on no knock warrants. But those are a lot of questions that were raised at the time.

Shay McAllister (13:02):

And here we’re getting a first look here at the executive summary from this report, the Department of Justice saying they have reasonable cause to believe that Louisville Jefferson County Metro Police does engage in a pattern of practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights. Some of the bullet points here, LMPD uses excessive force. LMPD conducts searches based on invalid warrants. LMPD unlawfully executes search warrants without knocking and announcing. LMPD unlawfully stops searches, detains, and arrest people during street enforcement activity. LMPD unlawfully discriminates against black people. LMPD violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech critical of policing. And Louisville Metro and LMPD discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to them in crisis.

Doug Profit (13:48):

Scathing? Yes. And a very broad indictment go a reaching rank to Metro Government.

Jay MacMichael Brown (13:54):

Absolutely. And that’s when the leadership has to come in now, because that’s what people expect. Individual officers are… Their performance is going to be based on what their supervisors allow them to do, and then their supervisors have to be on the scene knowing what’s going on at all times. And again, that goes back to that cursory review of that warrant that had a lot of questions just on the face of it. How valid is this information and why does it have to be a no knock warrant at that particular time? And then there were other issues that got into it. Even the tactical issues about how they served the warrant, even if they were serving it at a bad time. Was SWAT involved? Were supervisors involved? I had brought up a point with even when it got into the apartment, were gun rights involved?

Doug Profit (14:44):

You’re going to sit here and listen to it with us. Here’s Merrick Garland, the US attorney general.

Merrick Garland (14:49):

Morning everyone. On April 26th, 2021, shortly after I became the Attorney General, I announced that the Justice Department had opened a civil investigation into the Louisville Jefferson County Metro Government, and the Louisville Metro Police Department. Our investigations sought to determine whether those entities engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the constitution or federal law. I’m here today to announce the findings of that investigation.

I am also announcing that the Justice Department, Louisville Metro, and LMPD have agreed in principle to negotiate toward a consent decree. Here with me from the Justice Department, our Associate Attorney General Venita Gupta, and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who is in charge of our civil rights division. I also want to acknowledge Mayor Greenberg, Council President Winkler, and Interim Chief of Police Gwen Villa Royale. Thank you for joining us today.

In 2020, LMPD officers shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her own home in the middle of the night. The officers were executing a search warrant but found no evidence of any crime. In a separate criminal case we have charged that officers involved in obtaining the warrant knew that the affidavit that supported the warrant contained false and misleading information. Ms. Taylor’s death brought immeasurable pain both to her family and to this community. In April 2021, our civil rights division opened the pattern of practice investigation that I’ve just referenced. Shortly after we opened the investigation, an LMPD leader told the department, Breonna Taylor was a symptom of problems that we have had for years.

The Justice Department’s findings and the report that we are releasing today bear that out. The department has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that Louisville Metro and LMPD engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the first and fourth amendments of the Constitution.

There is also reasonable cause to believe that they engage in conduct that violates title six of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Safe Streets Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically the report finds that LMPD uses excessive force including unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers, conduct searches based on invalid warrants, unlawfully executes warrants without knocking and announcing, unlawfully stops, searches, detains, and arrests people, unlawfully discriminates against black people in enforcement activities, violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech critical of policing, and along with Louisville Metro discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to them in crisis.

The Justice Department has also identified deficiencies in LMPD’s response to an investigation of domestic violence and sexual assault. LMPD has relied heavily on pretextual traffic stops in black neighborhoods. In these stops, officers use the pretense of making a stop from minor traffic offense in order to investigate for other crimes. Some officers have demonstrated disrespect for the people they are sworn to protect. Some have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars, assaulted people with disabilities, and called black people monkeys, animal, and boy.

Merrick Garland (19:00):

This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking. It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing, and it is an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve Louisville with honor, and it is an affront to the people of Louisville who deserve better. As the report states, most Metro employees and LMPD officers are dedicated public servants who work hard to promote public safety, but Louisville Metro and LMPD have failed to ensure that all employees uphold the constitutional and statutory rights of the people of Louisville. Louisville Metro and LMPD have also failed to provide police officers and other employees with the support and resources that they need to do their jobs effectively and lawfully.

Our investigation uncovered division training, substandard facilities and equipment, inadequate support for officer mental health and wellness. Police officers already have difficult jobs. These inadequacies have made those jobs even harder and less safe. Our report also describes unlawful law enforcement practices by LMPD patrol officers and by members of a specialized unit that was first called the Viper Unit. The unit was later rebranded as Ninth Mobile Division, and the Criminal Interdiction Division. Officers in this specialized unit frequently made pre-textural traffic stops in black neighborhoods. Federal and state courts have found that officers in the unit violated residents’ Fourth Amendment rights. The report concludes that the unit’s activities were part of an overall enforcement approach that resulted in significant and unlawful racial disparities. LMPD’s conduct has undermined its public safety mission and strained its relationship with the community it’s meant to protect and serve.

In an important step toward reform, I am pleased to announce that the City of Louisville has signed an agreement in principle with the Department of Justice. This agreement commits the city and LMPD to work with the Justice Department, the community, police officers, and other stakeholders to address the problems that we have identified. And this agreement commits us to negotiate a legally finding consent decree with an independent monitor. Louisville Metro and LMPD have already instituted a number of changes through that settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor, as well as through other measures. The city enacted a law that prohibits LMPD from seeking no knock warrants.

A limited pilot program has started sending behavioral health professionals to certain 911 calls, and the city has expanded community-based violence prevention services. LMPD has also announced plans to revamp its training support for officers health and wellness and internal auditing. These effort efforts are commendable and we credit Louisville Metro and LMPD for acknowledging that change is necessary, but more must be done. The Justice Department recommends 36 remedial measures that provide a starting framework for changes that are necessary to improve public safety, build community trust, and comply with the constitution and federal law.

To the officers of LMPD, the Justice Department is acutely aware of the integral role that law enforcement officers play in our society and the dangers you face to keep your community safe. So it is imperative that your police department sets you up for success. Your department needs to provide you with clear policies and consistent training that explains constitutional boundaries and responsibilities. You need equipment and facilities that help you meet those responsibilities, and you need supervisors and a chain of command that enables you to achieve the highest standards of your profession.

To the people of Louisville, you have shown meaningful engagement on issues of reform. During the investigation, the department met with many community members, including people who had encounters with the police, religious leaders, advocates, criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and service providers. I want to thank you for sharing your experiences with us. We could not have completed this investigation without your contributions, and I ask that you continue to engage with these issues in the months ahead. Your involvement is critical to our success. Together, we can make true progress and ensure the durability of reforms. Together, we can ensure that constitutional policing also results in safer communities.

Finally, to the career staff of the Civil Rights Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky who conducted this investigation, thank you for your extraordinary hard work which will make Louisville a better place and a safer place for all of its residents.

As I mentioned when I announced the opening of this investigation, the Justice Department is charged with ensuring that the constitutional and federal statutory rights of the people are protected. Congress authorized the department to conduct pattern of practice investigations to help it fulfill this responsibility. But those investigations and the recommendations that ensue do not only protect individual civil rights, they also assist police departments in developing measures to increase transparency and accountability. Those qualities are necessary to building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. And community trust is essential to making both communities and policing safer. The Justice Department looks forward to working with Louisville Metro and LMPD to achieve these ends. I’m now pleased to turn the podium over to Associate Attorney General Vinita Gupta.

Speaker 2 (26:18):

Thank you, Attorney General Garland. I want to thank Mayor Greenberg, Council President Winkler, Interim Chief of Police, Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, Louisville Metro and LMPD for their cooperation with the Justice Department’s investigation. I also want to thank the outstanding team led by the Civil Rights Division for their tireless efforts on this matter. And I want to especially thank the many, many community members who shared their experiences with our team during the investigation.

As the Attorney General announced, our investigation has revealed a pattern of practice of conduct that violates the United States Constitution and federal law. LMPD’s ability to serve and protect the people of Louisville has been compromised and the findings are deeply troubling and sobering, but we are committed to working with Louisville on a path forward to constitutional policing and stronger police community trust. And that is why I am pleased that the Justice Department in Louisville have entered into an agreement in principle.

In that agreement, we commit to negotiating a court enforceable consent decree to ensure sustainable, constitutional and effective public safety and emergency response services in Louisville. By entering into this agreement, the city and police department have taken a critical step forward and shown their commitment to moving expeditiously to implement reforms aimed at remedying the problems that we have identified in the investigation, and I want to commend them for taking the step.

I also want to acknowledge that Louisville did not wait for us to issue findings to start instituting change. In the wake of Breonna Taylor’s tragic and terrible death. The city made changes through its settlement with her family in addition to other measures. The agreement in principle only represents a framework, and in the coming months, we will use the framework to negotiate a comprehensive consent decree with the city that will be filed in federal court. And we will soon be meeting with and reaching out to community members and law enforcement to hear your ideas about the kind of police department and policing you want to see in your community.

In negotiating and developing a consent decree, we will lean on the lessons we have learned from consent decrees in other cities across the country. We have learned, and I have seen firsthand that consent decrees can lead to lasting and real change. Across the country, the Justice Department has worked collaboratively with not only city and police officials, but also members of the public who are invested in finding better ways for their cities to meet public safety challenges. Our approach has led to significant improvements. In Seattle, for example, the independent monitor reported a 60% decrease in the use of serious force since 2014. In Albuquerque, the independent monitor recently reported serious uses of force had dropped by a third from previous years. And in Baltimore, the independent monitor recently found that officers are using force less often.

We will apply these lessons in Louisville, and the consent decree we negotiate and implement here will address the specific context of the Louisville Metro government and LMPD and this community’s needs. The agreement and principle commits us to including mechanisms in the consent decree that will facilitate ongoing participation of community members as well as police officers in the implementation of reform. We need this entire community to help us craft solutions that will result in real and lasting change in Louisville. The agreement and principle also commits us to selecting a third party independent monitor who will assist the court and parties in determining whether a consent decree is being implemented.

In 2021, I reviewed the department’s use of monitors in these contexts and recommended, and the Attorney General agreed to, actions that ensure that policing consent decrees minimize costs, enhance transparency, involve voices from the community, and move a community as efficiently as possible to lasting change that we all desire and that the people of Louisville deserve. As we move forward, we know that we can achieve constitutional policing only by using every available tool.

In that vein, just this morning, the Justice Department’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services announced that it will produce a guide for police chiefs and mayors across the country to help them assess the appropriateness of the use of specialized units like the unit formerly known as the Viper Unit here in Louisville, as well as how to ensure necessary management, oversight, and accountability of such units. The Justice Department also supports co-responder and community responder models that pair law enforcement and behavioral health professionals to attend to people experiencing a crisis, which will free up law enforcement officers to address more serious, violent offenses and save lives. These resources will be available to LMPD as they are to police agencies across the nation.

To the men and women of the LMPD, we recognize the many challenges faced by police officers in Louisville and in communities across the country. And we know that police officers every day risk their lives in the line of duty. And we know also that you need the public’s trust to do your jobs effectively and to keep communities safe. To the people of Louisville, whether here or around the country, police reform won’t happen overnight or by chance. It will take time along with focused effort and sustained commitment. In communities across America, even in communities where that trust has been broken, we have seen transformative reform, rebuild relationships, advanced public safety, and bring us closer to the nation’s promise of justice and equality under the law.

And in the months ahead, because of the proactive leadership in the city, because of the energy and vibrancy of this community and because of the police department’s commitment for reform, together we can shape the same progress right here in Louisville. Together, we can build a stronger Louisville, a Louisville that protects the safety, rights, and dignity of all. I will now turn things over to Assistant Attorney General, Kristen Clarke, who will discuss the findings of our investigation in greater detail.

Speaker 3 (32:26):

Good morning. Three years ago in the wake of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd’s tragic and brutal deaths, the nation once again turned its eye to the state of policing in America. People across the country came together to demand action from their leaders, accountability from the police departments that protect and serve them, and reforms that can ensure public safety while restoring public trust. At the heart of the many demonstrations that unfolded in this city and across the country was a call for constitutional policing and respect for people’s civil rights. People in Louisville deserve constitutional policing. They deserve policing that is fair and non-discriminatory.

Our investigation found that the police department and city government failed to adequately protect and serve the people of Louisville, breached the public’s trust, and discriminated against black people through unjustified stops, searches and arrest. The police used excessive force, subjecting people to unlawful strikes, tasings and canine bites. The police sought search warrants without justification and carried out no knock warrants unlawfully, evading the constitution, defying federal law, and putting ordinary citizens in harm’s way. Today marks a new day and a new chapter for the people of Louisville.

For the last two years, the Justice Department has led an exhaustive investigation in Louisville to determine whether Louisville Metro government and the Louisville Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violated the constitution or federal law. We left no stone unturned and we found that LMPD routinely seeks search warrants for residences without establishing legal justification for invading someone’s home, officers regularly seek warrants that are overly broad, sweeping in people who have at most a remote connection to the investigation, who have committed no crime, harbor no evidence, and have a constitutional right to not be subject to unreasonable search and seizure.

Officers also violated the law when they act on these warrants by unjustifiably barging into people’s homes without knocking and announcing their presence, and they often serve these warrants at night. These tactics are dangerous. Officers can be misidentified as intruders, and they may misinterpret shock and surprise as a threat. All of this puts the public at risk and officers too. Officers also routinely conduct stops, searches and arrests without the required constitutional justification. These tools are essential to enhance public safety, but when used without restraint, they turn into weapons of oppression, submission, and fear.

We found that LMPD officers use excessive and dangerous tactics such as neck restraints, canines, and tasers, even against people who pose no imminent threat to the officer or others. We also found that officers misdirect their resources and violate fundamental principles of equal justice by selectively targeting and disproportionately subjecting black residents to unlawful policing. LMPD disproportionately stops and cites black drivers for minor traffic offenses. In fact, black drivers were nearly twice as likely as white drivers to be cited for having one headlight out. Black drivers were nearly four times as likely as white drivers to be cited for improperly tinted windows. And black drivers were nearly five times as likely as white drivers to be cited for improper tags. LMPD also disproportionately searches black drivers who are stopped and cited.

Even when comparing traffic stops, where black and white drivers were engaged in similar behavior before the stop, black drivers were almost 50% more likely to be searched than whites. LMPD charges black people at higher rates than white people for the same misdemeanor offenses. For example, LMPD charges black people for loitering at more than four times the rate of white people, for disorderly conduct at two and a half times the rate of white people, and for littering at three times the rate of white people. This pattern of racial discrimination fuels distrust and impedes the community’s confidence

Speaker 3 (38:00):

…. confidence in the LMPD and their law enforcement operations. LMPD’s improper activity extends beyond use of force, street enforcement and search warrants. We also found that LMPD often responds aggressively to people criticizing the police, both in routine day to day police encounters and during lawful demonstrations, and both before and after the racial justice protests that occurred in 2020. We saw unnecessarily aggressive behavioral against people experiencing behavioral health crises. One person, a Black man with an apparent behavioral health disability, had more than 25 encounters with LMPD in less than two years. And in some of these interactions, LMPD officers needlessly escalated the situation and used unreasonable force. At times, they even mocked him. The man ultimately died in a Louisville Metro Detention Center after he had once again been arrested by LMPD. Such unnecessary escalation of encounters that could have and should have remained non-violent was far too common.

These findings are not based on any one incident or event. They turn on evidence showing long-standing dysfunction at LMPD. The pattern or practice of unlawful conduct compromises LMPD’s ability to serve and protect safely, constitutionally, and effectively. Instead, LMPD has practiced an extreme misdirected and counterproductive style of policing. And as Attorney General Garland noted, these findings give us reasonable cause to believe that Louisville Metro and LMPD engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates both the constitution and federal law. Together, our findings have at their core a lack of effective management, training and accountability. The Louisville Police Department can do better and will do better. Better at respecting the civil rights of this community and better at working with the community to fight crime.

Our investigation here was guided by a few core principles. First, policing in America and particularly here in Louisville is complex. We know that interactions with members of the public don’t happen in a vacuum. Dynamics like racial segregation, poverty and violence all affect how officers do their job. Second, being a police officer is hard and dangerous work. Officers are often faced with complex fast-paced situations, which at times threaten their lives in the lives of others. And third, members of the public may see the police in different ways. Some see the police as pillars of the social order, who get us through the worst days of their lives. Others view the police with skepticism and worry that any encounter poses the risk of being unfairly targeted and victimized. With all of these realities in mind, again, our efforts were exhaustive. We talked to hundreds of people across this city. We rode with officers in their cars on patrol.

We spoke with city and union officials, judges and attorneys, advocacy groups, religious leaders and community members from different walks of life. And along with our experts, we reviewed thousands of documents regarding LMPD’s enforcement activities, and we watched thousands of hours of body-worn camera footage. We know sustainable police reform requires going beyond mere surface level changes. It requires digging deep into the root causes of systemic problems. It requires creative ideas from many sources that can help LMPD and Louisville Metro achieve their public safety mission in line with the Constitution, federal law, and the community’s values. It also requires an optimism that change is possible and a hard-nosed realism about the solutions that can achieve that change. So to the people of Louisville, I say, let your voice be a part of the change. Louisville residents have a rich history of community organizing and demanding better from your leaders, and we want your activism and engagement to energize and advance this reform process.

In the road ahead, as we focus on creating so solutions that will drive real lasting change in the city, the Justice Department will be reaching out to community members and law enforcement to hear about the kind of police department that people want for their city. We are relying on the diverse communities of this vibrant city to stay engaged, to push us, to advocate, and to work with us to create a safer, more just Louisville. As I close, I want to extend my gratitude to Mayor Greenberg, Council President Winkler and interim chief of police, Jacqueline and Gwinn-Villaroel for joining us today.

In addition, I want to recognize former Mayor Greg Fisher and former Chief of Police Erica Shields for their cooperation and leadership throughout our investigation. And I also want to extend gratitude to the hundreds of people across Louisville who worked with us throughout this investigation. Thanks to the police officers, the civil rights advocates, leaders, and many others for exercising your voice in this process. Law enforcement works when the community is engaged and we at the Justice Department thank you all. Finally, as we prepare to embark on a path towards reform, we want the citizens of Louisville to hear us loudly and clearly that we will stand with you every step of the way. I’d now like to invite Mayor Greenberg to the podium.

Mayor Greenberg (44:45):

Thank you. Our city has been through a lot these past few years and hearing the details of this report brings back a lot of painful memories, especially from 2020. Though for too many in our community, the memories this brings back are much older than that. Our city has wounds that have not yet healed, and that’s why this report, this moment are so important and so necessary. We have to understand and come to terms with where we’ve been so we can get to where we want to be. Chief Jacqueline Gwinn-Villaroel and I were both sworn in two months ago. We took our oaths of office on January 2nd, knowing this investigation was reaching its conclusion but not knowing what these findings would be. We both understood from the beginning that we would inherit and embrace this opportunity to reform and improve LMPD.

The work is essential to reducing violent crime and strengthening public safety, which is our top responsibility at city government. And it’s equally as important to acknowledge the infuriating examples of abuse cited in this report, particularly cases against Black and brown members of our community and women and children, abuses by the same people who were supposed to protect them. The chief and I and our entire teams will do everything possible and everything necessary to correct the mistakes of the past and heal the wounds they’ve left in our community. As the Department of Justice has noted, this work has begun, but we have a lot more to do. What we just heard from the Attorney General, from the Associate Attorney General, from the Assistant Attorney General, the descriptions of police misconduct and people looking the other way. All of that is unacceptable, it’s inexcusable, and it’s a betrayal of the public’s trust, and it’s a betrayal of the integrity and professionalism that the overwhelming majority of our officers bring to their job every day and every night.

I want to address some of the reactions that I expect different people in our city will have to this report and some of the details of the findings. I know some people are surprised and horrified to hear stories about certain officers operating in ways that are so counter to our values as a community. All of this is really hard to hear and hard to accept. It’s infuriating. I understand that. I also know there are people who are not surprised to hear the findings in this report because they see this report as confirmation of complaints they’ve made about their own interactions with law enforcement, sometimes for years. Many of those spoke out and felt dismissed or devalued, and now the United States Department of Justice is essentially saying yes, in many cases you were right and you deserved better. That’s a powerful thing. I understand that too.

And I know there are people who will look at this report and they’ll be eager to find some way to minimize it or dismiss it. They’ll say it’s all politics or that you could find examples like this in any city. No, this is not about politics or other places. This is about Louisville. This is about our city, our neighbors, and how we serve them. We will not make excuses. We will make changes. We will make progress, continued progress towards improvement and reform, towards making sure that LMPD delivers services that respect the constitution, increase trust, and promote public safety and officer safety. The United States Department of Justice is demanding that we take action. The people of Louisville are demanding that we take action. Chief Gwinn-Villaroel and I are taking action to reform and improve how our police department operates. Over the past few days, the Department of Justice in my office have reached an agreement and principle that will help us, guide us as we implement next steps. We will continue to provide updates as we go through this process.

There’ll be many more announcements to come, and community input will absolutely be a critical part of the ongoing part of police reform. We’ll reform how we recruit, train, equip, support, supervise, and deploy the more than 1000 public servants whose job it is to serve as guardians of the public safety every day and every night. I talk to and work with LMPD officers every day. And as the Department of Justice has said, the vast majority of our officers are good and honorable people who are doing this work because they want to serve, they want to help and they’re willing to put their lives on the line. They frequently go into dangerous, traumatizing, and heartbreaking situations to keep us safe. None of that excuses anything in the Department of Justice report, but it is something we need to understand as we carry out police reform, because it’s our job to provide every officer with the support, training, structure, leadership, resources and accountability they need so they can do their job and do it right.

We need our officers to prevent and solve crimes while treating people with dignity and respect, because everyone from every community and every background deserves that. And as we just heard, too many people who deserve respect and dignity didn’t get it from officers of the law sworn to protect them. Instead, they received contempt and abuse. To those people who’ve been harmed, on behalf of our city government, I’m sorry. You deserved better. We can and will do better. We are committed to putting reforms in place that will raise the department’s standards and ensure constitutional and effective policing that reduce crime and improve public safety. We all understand this will take time and sustained effort. It will also take conversation and collaboration with our officers and staff, with their representatives in union, and with the individuals, businesses and communities throughout the city that we all serve.

This report paints a painful picture of LMPD’s past, but it helps point us in the right direction for our future, and to the next phase in the process of police reform in Louisville. That phase begins now. Our goal is to make LMPD the most trusted, trained and transparent police department in America. We have a lot of hard work ahead. It’s good and important work, and we will make our city safer, stronger, and healthier. So let’s get to work. I now ask Chief Gwinn-Villaroel to share a few remarks. Chief?

Chief Gwinn-Villaroel (53:39):

Good morning. This is an extremely challenging and pivotal point for our city, our department, and for our officers. Now that a DOJ has concluded their investigation and presented their findings, we will continue our efforts in improving public safety in this beautiful city called Louisville, and making LMPD the premier police department in the country. The men and women of LMPD are LMPD’s greatest resource. Our officers are committed to upholding the constitution with honor and distinction while carrying out their important duties to ensure public safety. We will not falter in this effort. We are committed to ensuring police practices not only reflect constitutional principles, but the values of the community served by LMPD. We recognize that the process of reform is complex and will require sustained effort. Prior to and during this investigation, LMPD took significant and important action to support officers and to find solutions to ensure constitutional policing and build trust within this community. Improvement will not occur, as we’ve heard before, overnight, and will require clear goals and objectives.

To this end, we are committed to work collaboratively and earnestly with all necessary parties. I want to rest on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and I think it’s very fitting today. I will have a choice whether I’m able to stand. An ultimate measure of a man is not when he stands in the moments of comfort or convenience, but when he stands at times of challenge and controversy. So I am asking that LMPD and this community that we too together, that we stand as we navigate this process and as we move forward for all of us to make change.

Mayor Greenberg (55:53):

Thank you very much. We will now take some questions from the media. I’ll be calling on various media outlets, and if you could please say to whom your question is specifically directed. First, the Associated Press.

Speaker 4 (56:12):

This for Attorney General Garland. You mentioned early on in your address that [inaudible 00:56:24] police department [inaudible 00:56:28]. Can you elaborate on that? And you hear a lot about what happened, but I think people wonder why. Was it the leadership? Is it training? Can you elaborate on why this happened?

Attorney General Garland (56:42):

So I’ll say a few things and then I’m going to turn it over to our Assistant Attorney General. This is laid out pretty deeply in a pretty long report. The things that we found have been listed and we’ve ticked them off already. They’ve

Attorney General Garland (57:01):

… arranged everything from improper use of force and of lethal force to search warrants not based on probable cause to disparate policing practices in different parts of the city to pretextual searches and stops in parts of the city. These are the things I think that the leader of the LMPD who was quoted was referring to.

Speaker 3 (57:36):

I’ll also add that in some instances, there were no policies to prevent the misconduct that we saw. In some instances, we saw policies but no training. In other instances, we found no accountability. I’ll also underscore that our investigation was not focused on isolated incidents. What we uncovered was a pattern and practices that run afoul of the Constitution and federal law. And the consent decree that we will now negotiate with the city will help put the police department and the city on a needed path to reform. Policies, training, accountability, appropriate systems to prevent the kind of problems that we identified will all be part and parcel of that consent decree.

Mayor Greenberg (58:25):

Thank you. Representative from the Courier Journal.

Speaker 5 (58:29):

This is for [inaudible 00:58:32]. I believe [inaudible 00:58:34]. Can you elaborate on [inaudible 00:58:45]?

Attorney General Garland (58:51):

So are there’s two different things going on here. Before we completed this investigation, the city already put into effect Inspector General and an enhanced [inaudible 00:59:03] report, and our MD is more supportive [inaudible 00:59:08]. Maybe what you’re referring to is the monitor, which is a relatively common factor in these consent agreements. We expect that person will be an expert in this field. We hope to reach an agreement with the city and the police department as to who that will be. In the end, that determination will be made by the judge in charge of the consent decree, and that monitor will ensure that the elements of the consent decree are carried forward.

Mayor Greenberg (59:43):

Thank you. WFPL Radio.

Speaker 6 (59:54):

My question is for the attorney general. Can you explain how having better [inaudible 00:59:59]

Attorney General Garland (59:57):

Oh, having better?

Speaker 6 (59:59):


Attorney General Garland (01:00:00):

Yeah. So the facilities are part of one long list of the resources that police officers need. I think the assistant attorney general was just referring to this, better training, better understanding of what the boundaries of constitutional policing are, better support for officers’ health and wellness, better supervision. All of this goes into the way in which officers are then able to carry out their jobs and ensure that they follow the Constitution, that they protect the community and that they’re able to protect themselves.

Mayor Greenberg (01:00:44):

Thank you. WHS TV.

Speaker 7 (01:00:48):

Mayor, I’m not sure if this is to you, the chief or the attorney general. I’ll just let you guys sort it out. But in the findings of the investigation here that seem to implicate a number of officers doing a number of different things that were against protocols or procedures or the law, will those officers be investigated in any way, reprimanded, and if so, by what agency?

Mayor Greenberg (01:01:11):

I’ll start, and then whoever else wants to take that can. We have just received the details of the findings? Late yesterday. Two members of our administration have read the report in confidence, and so we, the chief and myself and our teams, will be reviewing the details of the findings that we were made aware of. And some of these incidents have already been reported and are known and have gone through an investigation process. Others may not have, and we will be looking at each one of those incidents as we review the findings report and the incidents they cite in further detail. Would you like to answer?

Speaker 3 (01:01:55):

The statutes used by the Justice Department here, 34 USC 12601, the Safe Streets Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act give us civil authority to identify whether or not there were pattern of practices of misconduct here. This investigation, excuse me, did not involve criminal inquiry to any individual officers. We want to underscore that this investigation did not focus on isolated incidents. It was focused on uncovering systems that were broken and patterns of misconduct.

Mayor Greenberg (01:02:40):

Thank you. WLKY TV.

Speaker 8 (01:02:43):

I’m not sure who to address this to. Mr. Garland said that [inaudible 01:02:56] more needs to be done. Out the 36 recommendations, do you know how much of that that we’ve achieved so far, and how much left does that require studies, evaluation?

Attorney General Garland (01:02:58):

Yeah. The 36 are million additional remedies that are required, but some of them build on some of the quite commendable changes that have already been made.

Mayor Greenberg (01:03:16):


Speaker 9 (01:03:18):

This is for anyone from DOJ. A lot of what you talked about today creates [inaudible 01:03:25]. How much responsibility does former Police Chief Steve Conrad bear here, and did he cooperate, talk to you guys during this investigation?

Speaker 3 (01:03:39):

The Justice Department wants to recognize the current mayor and the current chief and the former mayor and the former chief for their cooperation at every stage of our investigation. What you see here now are us standing with the current leadership of this great city, and we are all committed to working together to put this police department on a path to instituting reforms that are long overdue. Again, we are focused on no particular individual. This is a civil investigation that is focused on improving and strengthening the LMPD.

Mayor Greenberg (01:04:18):

Thank you. Wave 3 TV.

Speaker 10 (01:04:21):

Mayor Greenberg, this question is for you. Given the fact that you just took over, what issues did you see with the previous administration, and where are you deviating from that going forward?

Mayor Greenberg (01:04:35):

I think as you just heard, Chief Gwinn-Villaroel and I are focused on the future. This investigation was for a period that led up to the fall of late in 2021. We are aware of some of the reforms that had begun to start with LMPD, but we are now working collaboratively with the Department of Justice on ways that we can move forward, on ways that we can continue to improve policing in Louisville so that everyone is treated with the fairness, with the equity, with the justice that they deserve. And so that is what we will be working with the Department of Justice with over the coming months and if necessary years ahead until we get it right, until we can have a police department that everyone up here today, that all of us in the community are looking for.

We had an option when I first took office and understood a little bit about what the Department of Justice was doing and then in the more recent days when we were notified that the Department of Justice had completed their report as to how our city government would react. Even before reading the report, when we heard about what the findings were and were confidentially briefed on that, we immediately decided we wanted to collaborate. We wanted to cooperate. We want to work with the Department of Justice to reform and improve LMPD, and that’s what Chief Gwinn-Villaroel and I are committed, to is working with the Department of Justice.

One final note before we conclude. There will be a virtual community meeting tonight that the Department of Justice is hosting. It’ll be at 7:00 PM tonight. And again, that’s a virtual community meeting. I believe the details about how to sign onto that meeting were included in the press release, and we will post that as well on our various city government social media channels so that the entire community can participate. This is just the beginning of community participation in this process as we move forward together. So thank you very much to the Department of Justice. Thank you very much to everyone who’s here today. We have a lot of work ahead, but all of us are committed to moving forward. Thank you, all.

Doug Profit (01:06:51):

And you’ve been watching live the past hour the news conference from Louisville Metro Hall where the US Attorney General and his assistants are here in town. And the word from Merrick Garland as we went on the air at 11:00 AM about Louisville and about the police department and its practices, it is heartbreaking. Again, you just heard him wrap things up with Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg and the Interim Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel.

Shay McAllister (01:07:14):

So first, let’s get to the major takeaways from what we’ve heard so far from the Department of Justice. The report found LMPD uses unnecessary and excessive force, that the department conducts unlawful searches, including warrants, and that by doing these things, they have violated the civil rights of people in Louisville. The DOJ has, in turn, made 36 reform measure recommendations. Here are some of them. The Justice Department is negotiating a consent decree with the department. They have entered into an agreement in principle that means they’ve agreed and signed on to work with the DOJ as they make some reforms. They also plan to overhaul and rework officer training, including more mental health resources.

Doug Profit (01:07:58):

More of the reforms on the way and the recommended changes. Others include improving civilian oversight, improving police facilities and creating a crisis intervention team within the police department. A lot to take on this, and J. Michael Brown, who is the current chief of staff of Simmons College of Kentucky, also heading up their law department there, the former Kentucky Justice Secretary, joining us. You’ve been listening to the entire news conference with us. You heard the questions going back and forth. You were overall taking on this. How scathing is it, just how bad for the community about how our police department’s been operating?

Jay MacMichael Brown (01:08:34):

I think the attorney general summed it up pretty good in two words, deeply troubling. Now the mayor came up and he said, “No excuses,” so the pattern is set. Racial profiling, driving while Black, that’s a real thing. That’s happened. Search warrants, excessive force cannot be denied. We’re not going to go back and look at individual instances, but what has to happen now is our city just has to change the way police approach our citizens. No excuses.

Shay McAllister (01:09:06):

I know. When you’re hearing these things, are you hearing a willingness from the new police chief, the new mayor to really move this forward, full responsibility?

Jay MacMichael Brown (01:09:15):

I believe so, and I think this presents them with a unique, once-in-a-career opportunity. They come into a situation, they’re presented with explicit information from a third party and outside source to say, “Here’s what you need to be the best professionals you can be.” So given that mandate, now they’ll have to work with the city council and the public to implement these changes.

Doug Profit (01:09:42):

This report is so big, and it is detailed. We’ve been going through the specifics. They give specific examples of Black and white citizens in this community who suffered mistreatment from the police department, things like LMPD deploys police dogs against people who pose no threat and allows the dogs to continue biting them after they surrender. Also, they use dangerous neck restraints against people who pose a threat. And then also finding that the police department fails to even adequately support and supervise the officers. You just have an entire cascading event. How can you operate as a good police officer with these kind of things happening all around you, including no support?

Jay MacMichael Brown (01:10:24):

Well, the first thing that has to happen is, and I think the report is a starting point and the new chief and the mayor is a starting point, you have to set expectations, just like any professional in any job. What is expected of you, and then where is our zero tolerance? What will we not allow to happen in our city? And this is going to have to be drilled down at an academy level, in continuing education level, at each organizational level because, as they’ve said, they found a failure to supervise.

Shay McAllister (01:10:54):

Some changes there expected top to bottom. Well, we know Attorney General Merrick Garland had a specific message for the officers who are doing the good work and the people here in Louisville.

Attorney General Garland (01:11:05):

It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing, and it is an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve Louisville with honor. And it is an affront to the people of Louisville who deserve better.

Shay McAllister (01:11:26):

We do have people in the WHAS11 newsroom right now going through the 90- page report. You can find comprehensive coverage right here on WHAS11 starting in just a few minutes. You can also check on

Doug Profit (01:11:38):

But WHAS11 News at Noon is coming your way right here next. J. Michael Brown is going to stay here with us as we continue to go through this lengthy report, which has now put Louisville under a federal consent decree for LMPD, that negotiation beginning today most likely with the attorney general and his investigators in town. Stay with us. WHAS11 News at Noon coming your way next.

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