The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reportedly launched a civil rights investigation into the city of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department. According to CNN, the investigation was announced Thursday.
Additionally, the investigation arrives months after the passing of Tyre Nichols. Nichols was fatally beaten by Memphis authorities following a traffic stop in January.
More Details Regarding The DOJ’s Investigation
According to the outlet, the federal probe seeks to determine whether the MPD has committed “systemic violations” of the U.S. Constitution or federal law.
The outlet explicitly notes that this federal investigation is separate from the probe launched regarding Nichol’s death.
Additionally, attorneys on behalf of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Western District of Tennessee have reportedly explained that the investigation was not prompted by “one incident.” However, it was prompted by “multiple reports of violence and racism” allegedly committed by the MPD, as per Commercial Appeal.
Attorney General Merrick Garland explained the intention of the investigation via a statement shared by CNN.
“At the Justice Department, we are committed to using all our tools to help ensure that Memphis residents have a safe community and can trust in the actions of law enforcement.”
Reports Received By The DOJ Against The City Of Memphis & Its Police Department
According to Commerical Appeal, the DOJ has received multiple reports of MPD officers escalating public interactions with “excessive force.” Additionally, reports have been received that allege officers also use such force when dealing with people who are already restrained.
The reports allegedly add that the instances result in “serious physical injuries” for those involved.
Furthermore, the DOJ has also received reports that officers exercise “racially discriminatory stops of Black people for minor violations.”
“Other information indicates the Memphis Police Department may be using an approach to street enforcement that can result in violations of federal law, including racially discriminatory stops of Black people for minor violations,” Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke shared. “Such encounters can be harmful and can also violate the law. Our review indicates that even in a majority Black city, MPD’s traffic enforcement may focus disproportionately on the Black community.”
What Will Take Place After The DOJ’s Investigation
According to Clarke, the department plans to work “expeditiously” on the investigation. Additionally, Clarke explained that a public report will be shared regarding its findings.
“If there is reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern or practice of constitutional or statutory violations, we will issue a public report of our conclusions…”
Additionally, Clarke explained that the federal authorities will attempt to “work cooperatively with the city and the police department” to implement “remedies” for the findings.
“We will then aim to work cooperatively with the city and the police department to reach an agreement on remedies.”
However, Commercial Appeal reports that if no remedy can be agreed upon between the two entities, the DOJ may “bring a civil lawsuit to seek injunctive relief.”
According to Clarke, the Memphis police chief and chief legal officer of the city have “pledged their cooperation.”