Minneapolis Police Found Guilty of Civil Rights Violations Post George Floyd Murder by DOJ Investigation

by Madison Thomas
Minneapolis Police Reform

The Department of Justice (DOJ) unveiled on Friday a damning assessment of the Minneapolis police, implicating them in a series of constitutional rights violations and discriminatory practices against Black and Native American individuals. This probe was initiated in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.

The comprehensive two-year civil rights examination revealed that Minneapolis police had frequently resorted to excessive force, encompassing “unjustified deadly force”, and infringed upon the rights of individuals partaking in constitutionally protected speech. The study also concluded that the city and the police exhibited bias against those with “behavioral health disabilities” when their assistance was required.

“Although many MPD officers were professional, courageous, and respectful in executing their challenging duties, the behavior patterns and practices we uncovered made George Floyd’s tragedy possible,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland during a press conference in Minneapolis.

The report pointed out that the police had often resorted to hazardous tactics and weapons even for minor or sometimes non-existent offenses, in a form of retaliatory action towards those who angered or criticized them. Furthermore, the police were found to patrol neighborhoods based on their racial demographics and exhibited racial bias during searches, handcuffing, and the use of force during stops.

In the wake of this investigation, the city and police department have agreed to a federal consent decree requiring reform supervised by an independent monitor and sanctioned by a federal judge. This framework follows precedents in Seattle, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Ferguson, Missouri.

Chief of Police, Brian O’Hara, who previously guided Newark, New Jersey, police through a similar consent decree, expressed his commitment to creating a police department deserving of every Minneapolis resident. Mayor Jacob Frey recognized the demanding work that lies ahead, affirming that change is imperative and will continue despite the potential challenges and pain, even three years after Floyd’s murder.

The probe began in April 2021, one day post the conviction of ex-officer Derek Chauvin, a white man, for murder and manslaughter in the killing of Floyd, a Black man, on May 25, 2020. Chauvin’s forceful kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes, despite Floyd’s repeated pleas of being unable to breathe, was recorded by a bystander. This incident incited widespread protests over racial injustice.

The report also underlined the city’s practice of dispatching officers for behavioral health-related 911 calls, which sometimes had tragic outcomes, and put both the police and community at risk. The study drew upon a multitude of sources such as document reviews, incident files, body-worn camera footage, city and police data, and inputs from officers, residents, and other parties.

It was recognized that the city and Minneapolis police have already started reforms. Policies have now been implemented to prohibit neck restraints like the one used in Floyd’s killing, restrict certain crowd control weapons without the chief’s consent, and ban “no-knock” warrants following the death of Amir Locke in 2022. Furthermore, a promising behavioral health response program has been launched where trained mental health professionals answer some calls instead of police.

However, the DOJ isn’t alone in identifying these issues. A similar investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights also resulted in a “court-enforceable settlement agreement” to rectify the problems identified, with input from residents, officers, city staff, and others. This state investigation, concluded in April 2022, highlighted “significant racial disparities” in officers’ use of force, traffic stops, searches, citations, and arrests, along with a concerning organizational culture endorsing racist, misogynistic, and disrespectful language.

The report lists 28 “remedial” steps for police improvement, serving as a precursor to the consent decree. These steps, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland, present a preliminary framework to enhance public safety, foster community trust, and ensure constitution and federal law compliance.

The federal probe could have resulted in a parallel court-enforceable agreement, a consent decree, similar to the state’s settlement. Numerous police departments across other cities function under consent decrees due to alleged civil rights violations, requiring them to achieve certain goals before federal oversight is lifted.

Floyd, 46, was arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill for buying cigarettes. Although he struggled with the police when they tried to put him in a squad car, they forced him to the ground while he was already handcuffed.

During the incident, as Chauvin was pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck, officer J. Alexander Kueng held Floyd’s back, officer Thomas Lane held Floyd’s feet and officer Tou Thao kept bystanders away.

Chauvin, sentenced to 22 1/2 years for murder, also pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s civil rights, receiving a 21-year sentence. He is serving these sentences concurrently in Tucson, Arizona. Officers Kueng, Lane, and Thao were convicted of federal charges in February 2022. All three were found guilty of depriving Floyd of his right to medical care, and Thao and Kueng were also convicted for failing to intervene to stop Chauvin during the killing. Lane and Kueng have since pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in exchange for dropping aiding and abetting murder charges.

Lane, Kueng, and Thao are currently serving their respective sentences in various facilities, with Thao awaiting his sentencing set for August 7.

Salter reported this story from O’Fallon, Missouri.

For comprehensive coverage of George Floyd’s murder, please visit: https://bigbignews.net/death-of-george-floyd

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Minneapolis Police Reform

What did the DOJ investigation reveal about the Minneapolis police?

The Department of Justice’s two-year investigation found that the Minneapolis police engaged in a pattern of constitutional rights violations and discriminatory practices against Black and Native American individuals. These practices involved using excessive force, including unjustified deadly force, and violating the rights of people involved in constitutionally protected speech.

Who launched this investigation and why?

The Department of Justice launched this investigation in April 2021, a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.

What steps have been taken as a result of the investigation?

In the wake of the investigation, the city and police department have agreed to a federal consent decree, which will require reforms to be overseen by an independent monitor and approved by a federal judge. The city and Minneapolis police have also begun reforms including prohibitions on certain types of force and the launch of a behavioral health response program.

What were some specific instances of misconduct found in the report?

The report found instances of Minneapolis police using hazardous tactics and weapons even for minor or non-existent offenses and acting in retaliation to those who angered or criticized them. It also reported that police patrolled neighborhoods based on their racial demographics and showed racial bias during searches, handcuffing, and use of force.

Were other similar investigations conducted?

Yes, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights conducted a similar investigation, which also resulted in a “court-enforceable settlement agreement” to rectify problems identified in the report.

More about Minneapolis Police Reform

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Mike87 June 16, 2023 - 6:41 pm

Can’t believe this stuff still goes on in 2023. just smh…

LisaSocialWorker June 16, 2023 - 9:32 pm

Glad to see the focus on behavioural health response, its much needed change. Mental health needs more understanding in police force.

JennyHops June 16, 2023 - 11:06 pm

Its heartbreaking, isn’t it? We gotta do better as a country. Everyone should have their rights protected.

KarlGreen June 17, 2023 - 1:13 am

Theyre just gettin around to this now? Seems like justice takes too long these days, it’s frustrating really.

AaronLawyer June 17, 2023 - 11:47 am

In my opinion, it’s a good start. But we need more than reports and decrees. Need real actions, and quick!


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