The U.S. Department of Justice has released the findings of their investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, saying cops routinely violated the Constitutional rights of citizens, used excessive force, and discriminated against Black and Native American people in enforcement activities.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the findings of the investigation — which was launched in response to the 2020 murder of George Floyd — at a press conference Friday, June 16. Garland said “there is reasonable cause to believe” the MPD and City of Minneapolis “engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct” that violated the First and Fourth Amendments, the Civil Rights Act, the Safe Streets Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“Specifically,” Garland said, “we found that MPD and the City of Minneapolis engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force; unlawfully discriminating against Black and Native American people in enforcement activities; violating the rights of people engaged in protected speech; and discriminating against people with behavioral disabilities when responding to them in crisis.”

As a result of the investigation, Garland said the DOJ, the City of Minneapolis, and the MPD had “agreed in principle to negotiate towards a consent decree.” Such court-enforced agreements have been used to reform police departments in other cities like Baltimore, Chicago, and Ferguson, Missouri.

Garland said MPD “routinely” used excessive force “often when no force [was] necessary.” That included “unjust deathly force and unreasonable use of tasers.” Officers also “discharged firearms at people without assessing the person presents any threat, let alone a threat that would justify deadly force.”

The report found that, of 19 police shootings that occurred between Jan. 2016 and Aug. 2022, a “significant portion of them were unconstitutional uses of deadly force.” Garland gave one example: the 2017 shooting of an unarmed women, who’d called the cops to report a sexual assault in a nearby alley. The officer said he shot the woman because she had “spooked” him when she approached his squad car. 

MPD officers also frequently “disregarded the safety” of those in custody. In a pointed echo of George Floyd’s “I can’t breathe” plea, Garland said there “numerous incidents in which MPD officers responded to a person’s statement that they could not breathe, with a version of, ‘You can breathe, you’re talking right now.’”

The DOJ’s findings in Minneapolis come just a few months after it announced the results of a similar investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department (which was spurred by the police killing of Breonna Taylor). The DOJ said Louisville police engaged in “a pattern” of civil rights violations and used “excessive force, including including unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers.” The DOJ also said the LMPD’s conducted searches based on invalid warrants, executed no-knock warrants (both of which ultimately resulted in Taylor’s death), and unlawfully discriminated against Black people.

The DOJ launched its investigations into the MPD (and LMPD) in April 2021, just under a year after officer Derek Chauvin murdered Floyd on May 25, 2020, kneeling on his neck until he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin was ultimately convicted on state murder and manslaughter charges, and later pled guilty to two federal civil rights violations (he’s concurrently serving sentences of about 22.5 and 21 years, respectively). 

Three other ex-officers involved also faced federal civil rights charges, as well as state aiding and abetting manslaughter charges. Thomas Lane, who held down Floyd’s leg, pleaded guilty to both. J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were both found guilty on federal civil rights charges, while Kueng pleaded guilty to the state charges, and Thao was found guilty last month.  


Floyd’s death sparked a massive wave of protests against police brutality and racial injustice, and in Minneapolis, sparked major reckoning with its police force. Early on, activists and even some City Council members called for the total abolition of the MPD, and a version of the idea was put to voters the following years. But the ballot measure to replace the MPD with a new public safety agency was ultimately rejected. 

Along with the DOJ’s investigation, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched its own probe into the MPD. The results of that inquiry, released last April, included an array of shocking revelations, like that the MPD ignored white nationalists and white supremacy movements online, while officers created fake social media accounts to surveil and troll law-abiding Black community members “without a public safety objective.” The report also detailed numerous instances of MPD officers using racist language and stated cops used disproportionate force against Black residents.