Justice Department Launches Civil Rights Investigation of Louisiana State Police

The Justice Department announced on June 9 that it is opening a civil investigation into the Louisiana State Police (LSP) to determine if it uses excessive force and engages in racially discriminatory policing.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke announced that the Justice Department has launched a pattern or practice investigation into LSP after receiving information about the repeated use of excessive force against individuals, “who are suspected only of minor traffic offenses, are already handcuffed, or are not resisting.”

Some cases resulted in severe injuries and at least one death, according to Clarke.

Clarke also said that the Justice Department has received reports that LSP officers target Black residents in their traffic enforcement practices and in the use of force, noting that the state has the second highest percentage of Black residents in the country at nearly 33%.

Some of the reports included the use of racial slurs and racially derogatory terms by LSP troopers, Clarke added.

Other reports of unwarranted force after pursuits involved the use of tasers and blows to the head, Clarke further said.

Clarke said the investigators will review incident reports, body-worn camera footage, LSP’s policies, training materials, supervision records, and documents related to systems of accountability.

Investigators will also meet with community members and open voicemail and email boxes where people can submit information, Clarke said.

The Justice Department noted that its civil investigation is separate from any federal criminal investigation of LSP troopers.

The investigation into LSP is the first state-wide pattern or practice investigation of a law enforcement agency in over two decades and the fifth pattern or practice investigation since the beginning of the Biden administration.

Other police departments being investigated by the Justice Department include those in Louisville, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Mt. Vernon, New York.


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