Rash of cop killings mount as Justice Department probe begins

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Just as Attorney General Merrick Garland and the U.S. Justice Department begin a civil probe of the Louisville, Kentucky police department and the officers there who shot and killed Breonna Taylor, several more cases await his attention, two as recent as last Wednesday in North Carolina and Virginia.

The investigation of the killing of Taylor, the tragic result of a botched raid, comes five days after Garland began a similar probe of the Minneapolis Police Department, where former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of three charges in the murder of George Floyd last May 25.

Under the direction of President Biden, Garland will soon have a packed agenda if the police killings continue at the current rate of homicides. According to a statement from Garland, he will be looking into whether the Louisville police regularly engage in racial discrimination and deny access for people with disabilities. “Those investigations and recommendations and actions that ensue do not only protect individuals’ civil rights; they also assist police departments in developing measures to increase transparency and accountability,” Garland said, and then praised the department there for reaching a settlement with the family.

Erika Shields, chief of the Louisville Police Department, was in accord with the probe and agreed that the department had to “rebuild our product.”

Meanwhile, on April 21, a Black man, Andrew Brown Jr., was shot by a county sheriff deputy in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. No details were provided by authorities but an eyewitness said that Brown was shot multiple times while trying to drive away. His car skidded out in his yard and eventually hit a tree, according to the witness who lives on the street.

Several Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies were placed on leave pending a review by the State Bureau of Investigation, said Sheriff Tommy Wooten II. Court records show Brown was 42 and had a history of drug charges and a misdemeanor drug possession conviction. The warrant for his arrest was “surrounding felony drug charges,” according to a deputy sheriff.

“When they opened the door he was already dead,” said the witness who told The Associated Press. “He was slumped over.” She said officers tried to perform chest compressions on him.

Almost immediately upon learning of the incident, protesters began assembling in the city and marching chanting “Black Lives Matter” in front of the city’s municipal buildings.

On Wednesday in Virginia, Isaiah Brown, 32, was shot multiple times by a deputy who had just given him a ride home. He is in critical condition and on a breathing machine, an attorney for the family told the press. Brown had been taken home after his car broke down. He was holding a cordless house phone outside his home when he was shot.

Attorney Daniel Haynes, of the Cochran Firm of Washington, D.C representing the family, said that Brown was shot at least 10 times. Eight of the bullets have been removed from his body.

A body cam released by the sheriff’s office only shows a portion of what happened and that is under investigation. Other than characterizing the incident as a “domestic disturbance,” the situation that led to the shooting remains unclear.

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