Floyd's family reacts to DOJ finding of systemic issues in Minneapolis police department

Samantha Kummerer Image
BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Sunday, June 18, 2023
Floyd family reacts to DOJ findings in investigation of MN police dept
The Department of Justice released the findings of its investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department on Friday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Department of Justice released the findings of its investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department on Friday.

The report alleged the department systematically discriminated against racial minorities and people with behavioral health disabilities, used unjustified force disregarded the safety of people in custody, and violated constitutional rights.

The investigation came after the death of George Floyd, but investigators found the problems were prevalent for years beforehand.

"The patterns and practices of conduct the Justice Department observed during our investigation are deeply disturbing. They erode the community's trust in law enforcement. And they made what happened to George Floyd possible," said Attorney General Merrick Garland in the DOJ press release.

DOJ said ongoing deficiencies in policy, training, and accountability contributed to the violations.

Roger Floyd, George Floyd's uncle who lives in Raleigh, said the findings aren't surprising.

"It just solidifies what we already knew," he said. "When you have that non-persistency of enforcement and the leadership not enforcing what is already there, then you're going to have this repeated over and over and over again. And I think that's why to this day, my nephew was murdered."

Floyd said that he believes more training, increased focus on de-escalation, and oversight from leadership are all things still needed going forward.

"It has to do with the leadership and our elected officials that enact laws or there are consequences as a result of noncompliance. It has to be it has to be shown. So I think this is one major first step led by the Department of Justice," Floyd said.

Garland also said the investigation is just the first step. In Minneapolis, the police department and city plan to work on remedial measures set forward by the federal government.

The DOJ also has open investigations at seven other police departments across the country.

"These findings present a sobering picture of a flawed system - but today we turn towards change through justice," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Bildtsen for the District of Minnesota stated in the press release. "This thorough investigation is the foundation to make fair and lawful policing a reality for our entire community."

The ABC11 I-Team found similar disparities in the past at local police agencies. Traffic stop data from 2014 to 2020 showed Black drivers were more likely to get stopped and then searched in both Raleigh and Durham.

The issues highlighted in the DOJ investigation are ones that law enforcement agencies across the country have been working to remedy for years.

"I hope that this report will encourage law enforcement agencies across the country to take a look inside of themselves and examine the ways that they need to improve and have better relations with the communities that they serve," said Gerald Givens, the former president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.

Dr. Roy Taylor is a police chief and police consultant based in Wake County. He said he sees similar issues regularly.

"It is widespread and it's very disappointing," Taylor said. "Unfortunately, you do see racial bias and departments that aren't training their officers properly. But we are seeing more and more agencies do the right thing and having body-worn cameras help with transparency."

Taylor said it can be hard to change systematic issues and outside enforcement is needed.

"A lot of times the hard thing to do is sell them on why we need to do business differently today. And that all comes from recruiting and training and trying to get a better quality police officer," he said.

The police chief has done a lot of work with crisis intervention teams lately and believes that and community policing is needed moving forward. He also recommends agencies make sure their policies align with laws and if incidents do occur that internal punishment is enacted.

Givens said he is confident that local law enforcement agencies are taking a step in the right direction.

"I've seen the law enforcement agencies from Apex to Zebulon worked very hard. We're trying to change the culture, examining themselves, trying to improve the customer service that they have; trying to get it to excellence. For the most part, they do a great job," he said.

Givens is part of Raleigh's more than $1 million investment in a program called Boots on the Ground. The program joins together community-led efforts to curb gun violence in the Oak City.

He believes efforts like this will help further build community and police relationships.

"The hardest change in any society or organization is cultural. I honestly believe that if we continue to work together and try to drop the us-versus-them mentality, we'll see the change and the type of public safety that all of us need and require," Givens said.

Since George Floyd's death, local law enforcement agencies in North Carolina have taken a number of steps including reviewing policies and enhancing training requirements. The Durham Police Department launched an unarmed first-responder program. The Raleigh Police Department also established a unit to better address mental health intervention.

Statewide, Governor Cooper established a task force for racial equity in criminal justice. The group recommended 125 solutions including mandating bodycams, enacting independent reviews of officer-involved investigations and eliminating cash bonds for certain misdemeanors.

Roger Floyd said he is going to continue to push for change and a positive impact for his nephew. He said the family plans to push out an initiative soon that he believes will revolutionize policing in the nation. The Floyd Family Center is continuing to work toward making a difference in racial, social, and economic justice.

"I'm very confident going forward that there will be a certain level of transformation, not where we want it today, but it's to begin this process," Roger Floyd said.

WATCH | DOJ investigation finds pattern of Minneapolis Police Department violating civil rights

DOJ: Minneapolis police engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights and discriminating against Black and Native American people.