Minneapolis police faces government investigation

Justice department to determine if pattern of excessive use of force exists

The US Justice Department has announced an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering African-American George Floyd in the city last May.

In a rare intervention by the federal government into policing in America, attorney general Merrick Garland announced the investigation, which is separate to a civil rights inquiry already under way into the crime.

Mr Garland said the investigation would determine whether the department engaged “in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing”.

Specifically, it will investigate if there is a pattern of excessive use of force by the police in Minneapolis, including during protests, as well as any signs of discriminatory conduct.


Chauvin was found guilty on Tuesday of all three charges against him, including two counts of murder, after he knelt on the neck of Mr Floyd for more than nine minutes as he died.

Mr Floyd’s family has expressed relief at the verdict, which is being seen as a landmark judgment given that police officers are rarely convicted of criminal behaviour in fatal encounters with the public.

‘Catalyst’ for change

President Joe Biden and others have called for the case to become a catalyst for broader change in policing in the US arguing that the verdict could be a "moment of significant change".

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said "deep structural changes" in policing were needed in the wake of the Floyd killing.

The challenge that faces the US in dealing with excessive police force was thrown into sharp relief as it emerged that a teenage girl was shot dead by police in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday just before the verdict in the Chauvin trial was announced.

Video footage released by police show officers trying to intervene as the young black woman appeared to be wielding a knife in an altercation with another woman.

In Minneapolis on Wednesday, people gathered at the site where Mr Floyd died, which has been renamed George Floyd Square.

Fresh flowers and home-made signs decorated the street outside the convenience store where Mr Floyd was detained and killed by Chauvin. Passersby paused to pray and read messages that had been left overnight.

Across the city, shops and businesses remained boarded up and heavily armed national guard troops continued to patrol the streets, though no violence was reported overnight.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent