On March 8, the U.S. Department of Justice released a damning report detailing routine constitutional violations by the Louisville Metro Police Department (“LMPD”). Along with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU of Kentucky, ECBAWM sued Louisville in 2020, alleging that LMPD’s indiscriminate use of tear gas and other military-grade weapons against peaceful protesters violated their First and Fourth Amendment rights. The class-action lawsuit, brought by several named plaintiffs who were subjected to unnecessary force, seeks to bar LMPD from using such weapons at future protests.
Among many other areas of misconduct, DOJ investigated LMPD’s response to the summer 2020 protests following the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The report found that LMPD had “indiscriminately used force” against peaceful and law-abiding protesters, and used “riot sticks, less-lethal munitions, [and] chemical agents against protesters who did no more than passively resist or disperse more slowly than officers desired.”
The DOJ report also confirms another of the primary claims in the ECBAWM lawsuit against LMPD: “By using force against peaceful protesters without individualized and adequate justifications, LMPD repeatedly retaliated against speech, in violation of the First Amendment.” Attorney General Merrick Garland described some of LMPD’s conduct as “unacceptable” and “heartbreaking.”
“We applaud the Justice Department’s extensive investigation into the LMPD,” said ECBAWM Partner, Sam Shapiro. “Louisville must commit to stop using indiscriminate, crowd-control weaponry that subjects peaceful protestors to unconstitutional uses of force.”
ECBAWM attorneys Earl Ward, Andrew Wilson, Sam Shapiro, and Andrew Jondahl represent the protesters in the class action lawsuit.
“Justice Dept. Finds Pattern of Discriminatory Policing in Louisville,” New York Times
“Louisville police engaged in pattern of misconduct, Justice Dept. finds,” Washington Post
“DOJ issues scathing rebuke of Louisville police in report launched after Breonna Taylor killing,” CNN
“Louisville Police Department practices, violated Constitution, DOJ finds,” Politico
Legal Defense Fund press release
ACLU Kentucky press release