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Minnesota human rights office to investigate police department

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Tuesday announced a probe into the Minneapolis Police Department following the police-involved killing of George Floyd. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Tuesday announced a probe into the Minneapolis Police Department following the police-involved killing of George Floyd. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 2 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will launch an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department following the police-involved killing of George Floyd, Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday.

The probe comes after the department filed a civil rights charge related to Floyd's killing and the arrest of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes as he gasped for air and eventually died.

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"This investigation into policies, procedures and practices over the past 10 years will determine if the MPD has engaged in systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped," the announcement stated.

Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero will lead the investigation. The department pledged "swift action" in response to any determination of civil rights violations.

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"George Floyd should be alive. He deserved to live a life full of dignity and joy," Lucero said. "Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades. They have fought for this and it is essential that we acknowledge the work and commitment of those who have paved the path to make today's announcement possible."

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Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and he, as well as the other three officers present during Floyd's death, are under investigation by state prosecutors, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI.

An independent autopsy released Monday by lawyers representing Floyd's family found that his death was a homicide by "asphyxiation from sustained pressure" and said he had no underlying conditions that contributed to his death, countering the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's autopsy, which said "significant" heart conditions, and fentanyl and methamphetamine use may have been a factor.

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Floyd's family has called for a first-degree murder charge for Chauvin and for the other officers present to be charged. Nationwide protests sparked by Floyd's death have called for similar demand as well as widespread police reform to address police brutality and killings of black people throughout the country.

Walz pledged his administration will "use every tool at our disposal" to deconstruct systemic racism in the state.

"It is going to take action at all levels from neighborhood on up, to get the change we need to see," he said.

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Walz's office said the Department of Human Rights will seek an agreement from city leadership and the Minneapolis Police Department to implement interim measures immediately ahead of long-term measures to address discriminatory practices at a systemic level.

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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said such an agreement may spark changes that have previously been impeded by the Minneapolis Police Federation.

"For years in Minneapolis, police chiefs and elected officials committed to change have been thwarted by police union protections and laws that severely limit accountability among police departments," Frey said. "Breaking through those persistent barriers, shifting the culture of policing and addressing systemic racism will require all of us working hand-in-hand."

Protesters demand justice in police killing of George Floyd

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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