A two-year investigation led by the Department of Justice into the Louisville Metro Police Department uncovered a pattern of misconduct, violations of civil rights, a history of discrimination against the city’s Black and vulnerable residents, and more.
The probe, which was launched in 2021, a year after the death of Breonna Taylor, included the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government. It was released earlier this month, on March 8. According to the report, the DOJ found that the LMPD’s “use of police dogs frequently leads to bites that are unnecessary, dangerously prolonged, and unlawful… At times, LMPD sends dogs after people without giving them any warning and sends dogs after people who are in confined spaces, even if there is no exigency.” Among the troubling discoveries was an incident where an officer unleashed his K-9 on a Black 14-year-old boy.
The DOJ said the officer was searching for a home invasion suspect when he came across the teen, who was lying face down in the grass. Without warning, the dog was ordered to bite the adolescent, who posed no immediate threat. “Despite the teen staying prone and pleading, ‘OK! OK! Help! Get the dog please!’ officers stood over him shouting orders for nearly 30 seconds while the dog gnawed on his arm,” said the DOJ, which reviewed video of the encounter.
As the unidentified teen lay with one hand behind his back and the other in the dog’s mouth, another policeman was observed yelling, “Stop fighting my dog!” As a result of the vicious attack, the boy suffered serious injuries and required treatment at a children’s hospital.
Mayor Craig Greenberg addressed the findings on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” He said, “Many of the incidents that the Justice Department has in its report are infuriating to read and really infuriating examples of abuse that no one is proud of to happen in their city or any city. It’s unacceptable, inexcusable, and we are focused on where we go from here.” The report concluded with the DOJ offering 35 recommended improvements.
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