The US opens the Minneapolis Police Department investigation into Reuters’ conviction of Chauvin

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© Reuters. Murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin

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By Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Department of Justice opened a full civilian investigation into Minneapolis police practices on Wednesday after a jury found that former city policeman Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.

The investigation marks Attorney General Merrick Garland’s first major action after President Joe Biden promised to look into systemic racism in the United States. It will examine whether the department “engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force, including during protests,” he said.

He added that it is also examining whether the department “engages in discriminatory behavior and whether the treatment of people with behavioral disorders is illegal”.

Chauvin’s belief was a landmark in the troubled racial history of the United States and an allegation against the law enforcement’s treatment of black Americans. Floyd’s death was one in a long list of police killings that sparked protests across the country.

“I know such wounds are deeply rooted. That too many communities have experienced these wounds firsthand. Yesterday’s state criminal trial did not address potentially systemic police problems in Minneapolis,” Garland said.

Garland previously announced that he will make tackling police misconduct a priority.

A separate Justice Department investigation into whether the officials involved in Floyd’s death violated his civil rights continues, Garland said.

The decision to open an investigation into systemic police problems is a sharp contrast to former President Donald Trump’s administration, which severely curtailed the use of law enforcement agreements to prevent police departments from violating people’s civil rights.

Garland lifted that policy on Friday, saying the department would revert to its traditional practices of investigating state and local police departments and allowing department heads to approve most settlements and consent ordinances.

On Wednesday, Garland said Justice Department officials have already started reaching out to community groups in Minneapolis to ask about their law enforcement experience and plan to speak to police officers there about the training and support they are receiving.

A 12-person jury found the 45-year-old chauvin guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter after three weeks of examining testimony from 45 witnesses, including bystanders, police officers and medical experts, for three weeks.

In a videotaped confrontation, Chauvin, a white police veteran, handcuffed his knee to Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020. Chauvin and three colleagues tried to arrest Floyd. They were accused of buying cigarettes from a grocery store with a fake $ 20 bill.

The conviction sparked a wave of relief and reflection not only in the US but in countries around the world as well.

As the crowd celebrated the verdict, protesters called for justice in the case of Daunte Wright, a black man who was fatally shot and killed by a police officer on April 11 after a routine traffic obstruction just a few miles from where the chauvin was in court was standing. Kimberly Potter, who turned in her badge, was charged with manslaughter in this case.

As the country focused on the Minneapolis conviction, Columbus, Ohio police fatally shot and killed a black teenage girl they faced when she struck two people with a knife, as seen on police video footage of the encounter, announced the authorities. The incident sparked street protests in Ohio’s largest city.

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