The probe into policing in Louisville, Kentucky, announced by Attorney-General Merrick Garland on Monday (Tuesday AEST), is the second such sweeping investigation into a law enforcement agency announced by the Biden administration in a week.
Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once. A no-knock warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation but no drugs were found at her home.
The investigation is into the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department.
It is known as a “pattern or practice” — examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing — and will be a more sweeping review of the entire police department.
Mr Garland said it would specifically focus on whether the Louisville Metro Police Department engages in a pattern of unreasonable force, including against people engaging in peaceful activities.
It would also examine whether the police department conducted unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures and whether the department illegally executed search warrants.
The probe would also look at the training officers received, the system in place to hold officers accountable and “assess whether LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race,” among other things, he said.
The Attorney-General previously said there was not yet equal justice under the law and promised to bring a critical eye to racism and legal issues when he took the job.
Few such investigations were opened during the Trump administration.
Her death prompted a national debate about the use of so-called “no-knock” search warrants, which allow officers to enter a home without waiting and announcing their presence.
The warrants are generally used in drug cases and other sensitive investigations where police believe a suspect might be likely to destroy evidence.
But there’s been growing criticism in recent years that the warrants are overused and abused.
Prosecutors would speak with community leaders, residents and police officials as part of the Louisville probe and release a public report, if a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct was discovered, Mr Garland said.
He noted the department had implemented some changes after a settlement with Ms Taylor’s family and said the Justice Department’s investigation would take those into account.
“It is clear that the public officials in Minneapolis and Louisville, including those in law enforcement, recognise the importance and urgency of our efforts,” he said.
Kentucky’s lawmakers passed a partial ban on no-knock warrants last month.
The measure would only allow no-knock warrants to be issued if there was “clear and convincing evidence” the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender.”
Warrants would have to be executed between 6am and 10pm.