Biden’s DOJ Launches Attack On Minneapolis Police

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mer­rick Gar­land is expect­ed to announce that the Jus­tice Depart­ment is open­ing a sweep­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into polic­ing prac­tices in Min­neapo­lis a day after a for­mer offi­cer was con­vict­ed in the killing of George Floyd.

Wednesday’s announce­ment comes after for­mer offi­cer Derek Chau­vin was found guilty of mur­der and manslaugh­ter in Floyd’s death last May, set­ting off a wave of relief but also sad­ness across the coun­try. The Black man’s death prompt­ed months of mass protests against polic­ing in the U.S.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment is already inves­ti­gat­ing whether Chau­vin and the oth­er offi­cers involved in Floyd’s death vio­lat­ed his civ­il rights. The inves­ti­ga­tion being announced Wednes­day is known as a “pat­tern or prac­tice” and will be a more sweep­ing probe of the entire depart­ment and may result in major changes to polic­ing there, a per­son famil­iar with the mat­ter told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press. The per­son had direct knowl­edge of the mat­ter but was not autho­rized to speak pub­licly about the upcom­ing announce­ment, planned for Wednes­day morning.

The inves­ti­ga­tion will exam­ine prac­tices used by police, includ­ing the use of force, and whether the depart­ment engages in dis­crim­i­na­to­ry prac­tices, accord­ing to the per­son. It will also look into the department’s han­dling of mis­con­duct alle­ga­tions among oth­er things, the per­son said. It’s unclear whether the years under inves­ti­ga­tion will begin when Floyd died or before.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment had no comment.

Floyd, 46, was arrest­ed on sus­pi­cion of pass­ing a coun­ter­feit $20 bill for a pack of cig­a­rettes at a cor­ner mar­ket. He pan­icked, plead­ed that he was claus­tro­pho­bic and strug­gled with police when they tried to put him in a squad car. They put him on the ground instead.

The cen­ter­piece of the case was bystander video of Floyd, hand­cuffed behind his back, gasp­ing repeat­ed­ly, “I can’t breathe,” and onlook­ers yelling at Chau­vin to stop as the offi­cer pressed his knee on or close to Floyd’s neck for what author­i­ties say was about 9 1/2 min­utes, includ­ing sev­er­al min­utes after Floyd’s breath­ing had stopped and he had no pulse.

Floyd’s death May 25 became a flash­point in the nation­al con­ver­sa­tion about the deaths of Black Amer­i­cans at the hands of law enforce­ment and sparked world­wide protests.

At tri­al, Chauvin’s defense attor­ney per­sis­tent­ly sug­gest­ed Chauvin’s knee wasn’t on Floyd’s neck for as long as pros­e­cu­tors argued, sug­gest­ing instead it was across Floyd’s back, shoul­der blades and arm.

The deci­sion to announce a sweep­ing Jus­tice Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tion comes as Pres­i­dent Joe Biden has promised his admin­is­tra­tion would not rest fol­low­ing the jury’s ver­dict in the case. In a Tues­day evening speech, he said much more need­ed to be done.

“‘I can’t breathe.’ Those were George Floyd’s last words,” Biden said. “We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hear­ing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away.”

The Jus­tice Depart­ment had pre­vi­ous­ly con­sid­ered open­ing a pat­tern or prac­tice inves­ti­ga­tion into the police depart­ment soon after Floyd’s death, but then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr was hes­i­tant to do so at the time, fear­ing that it could cause fur­ther divi­sions in law enforce­ment amid wide­spread protests and civ­il unrest, three peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter told the AP.

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