Biting dogs and violence: Five takeaways from the Louisville police probe


By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Louisville, Kentucky, police department whose officers shot and killed Breonna Taylor routinely violates the civil rights of Black people, uses excessive force and conducts illegal searches, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Here are five takeaways from the report:


Louisville police deploy dogs against people who don’t pose a threat, and allow the dogs to continue biting after the suspect surrenders, the report found. It cited an instance where an officer ordered his dog to bite a 14-year-old Black teen who was not resisting. The teen yelled “Ok! Ok! Help! Get the dog please!” But the police stood over him shouting orders for at least 30 seconds while the dog gnawed on the teen’s arm.



The investigation found that Louisville police use dangerous neck restraints against people who pose no threat. It cited a case in which police responded to the scene of an elderly Black man “dancing in the street.” When they arrived, a police officer grabbed him, pulled him to the ground and sat on his neck while struggling to cuff him. Witnesses stood by and begged the officer to get his “knee off that man’s neck, he’s a human being.”


The investigation found instances in which officers unnecessarily escalated encounters. In one such case, police responding to a domestic violence disturbance call regarding a Black man. When they arrived and saw a man with a saw in his hands, they yelled “Drop it!” and shot at him 13 times before he had a chance to respond to their commands. The man died.


Louisville police disproportionately targeted Black people in the city, the report found. From 2013-19, police were between 54% to 95% more likely to search Black drivers than white drivers during traffic stops, it said.


The Justice Department found that Louisville police use excessive force, in violation of people’s Fourth Amendment rights. In one case the report cited, an officer used his boot to push a drunken and crying white woman onto the ground after losing patience with her. After the woman tried to bite the outside of his shoe, he repeatedly beat her in the face with his flashlight.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Aurora Ellis)