Justice Department finds systemic abuses by police, city in George Floyd's death

People view the George Floyd memorial site at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis last year. File Photo by Aaron Joseczfyk/UPI
1 of 6 | People view the George Floyd memorial site at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis last year. File Photo by Aaron Joseczfyk/UPI | License Photo

June 16 (UPI) -- The Minneapolis Police Department and the city of Minneapolis have a track record of excessive force and unfairly targeting Black people, the U.S. attorney general found in Justice Department probe into the death of George Floyd.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday the investigation concluded that there was "reasonable cause to believe that the Minneapolis Police Department and the city of Minneapolis engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct" that violated the Constitution.


Garland specifically cited the First Amendment, which protects free speech, the right to assembly and the right to raise grievances against the government, and the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

"George Floyd's death had an irrevocable impact on his family, on the Minneapolis community, on our country and on the world," Garland said.

"The patterns and practices of conduct the Justice Department observed during our investigation are deeply disturbing. They erode the community's trust in law enforcement. And they made what happened to George Floyd possible."

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on Memorial Day in 2020 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes as other deputies stood by while Floyd begged for his life.


Floyd's killing, which was shared in viral witness video, galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement and sparked fierce protests around the country that toppled numerous Civil War relics and Confederate statues.

The Justice Department specifically found that the police department uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force and unreasonable use of stun guns. It also found the department unlawfully discriminates against Black people and Native Americans, including use of force, violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech and discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to calls for assistance.

In July, a federal judge sentenced Chauvin to more than 20 years in prison for violating Floyd's civil rights. At the time, Chauvin was serving a 22.5-year sentence after being found guilty in April 2021 on murder charges related to Floyd's death.

Three other Minneapolis officers who were at the scene were also convicted of violating Floyd's civil rights and were subsequently sentenced to multiple years in federal prison.

President Joe Biden has since signed an executive order to strengthen investigations into police brutality, mandate body cameras, ban police chokeholds and no-knock warrants and create a national database for police misconduct, while also requiring de-escalation techniques for federal agents.


Garland went on to say that most of the officers investigated performed their duties with a sense of dignity and respect, but the systemic level of abuse was intolerable.

"George Floyd should be alive today," he said.

Police and city officials cooperated with the Justice Department's investigation. Garland said federal authorities will reach out to members of the Minneapolis community for input on ways to address the department's findings.

A biography of Floyd, His Name is George Floyd: One Man's Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, won a Pulitzer Prize this year.

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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