The Department of Justice is set to launch a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday, just one day after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
A 12-person jury pronounced Chauvin guilty on all counts Tuesday for his role in Floyd's death last May. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, suspected of using a counterfeit bill, died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes while performing an arrest.
Video of the incident quickly circulated online and Floyd's death became a lightning rod for outrage over alleged police brutality against black people, sparking violent protests and riots across the country and around the world.
But the guilty verdict will not be the end of the painstaking months-long saga. According to the Associated Press, the Justice Department is "already investigating whether Chauvin and the other officers involved in Floyd's death violated his civil rights."
And on Wednesday, Garland announced that the Justice Department "has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing."
"Yesterday's verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis," Garland said.
AG Garland Announces 'Comprehensive Review' Of Minneapolis Policing Practices | MSNBC youtu.be
As the attorney general stated, the forthcoming investigation is known as a "pattern or practice" probe, during which investigators will seek to determine if the police department as a whole is guilty of engaging in or promoting unconstitutional or unlawful policing.
"It will examine practices used by police, including use of force and force used during protests, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices," the AP reported, summarizing Garland's remarks. "It will also look into the department's handling of misconduct allegations and its treatment of people with behavioral health issues and will assess the department's current systems of accountability."
During Chauvin's trial, Lt. Johnny Mercil, the officer in charge of teaching the use of force training in the Minneapolis Police Department, testified that the technique employed by the defendant to restrain Floyd is not something the department teaches.
While Floyd was struggling on the ground, he repeatedly pleaded with Chauvin to release him saying, "I can't breathe."
The situation, however, was complicated when an autopsy report showed that at the time of his arrest, Floyd's significant conditions included "fentanyl intoxication" and "recent methamphetamine use," in addition to "Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease."