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AG Merrick Garland announces DOJ probe of Minneapolis Police Department

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Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday a Justice Department probe into the Minneapolis Police Department after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on Tuesday of all charges in the death of George Floyd.

A video of the incident showed Chauvin, who was arresting Floyd at the time, with his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd said multiple times “I can’t breathe.” Despite Floyd’s desperate calls, Chauvin didn’t let up the pressure for nearly nine minutes and Floyd died in police custody.

“The investigation I’m announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests,” Garland said. “The investigation will also assess whether the MPD engages in discriminatory conduct and whether its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful.”

He added, “It will include a comprehensive review of the Minneapolis Police Department’s policies, training, supervision, and use of force investigations. It will assess the effectiveness of the MPD’s current systems of accountability and whether other mechanisms are needed to ensure constitutional and lawful policing.”

On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter.

“The jury in the state trial of Derek Chauvin has fulfilled its civic duty and rendered a verdict convicting him on all counts. While the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death. The Justice Department has previously announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd. This investigation is ongoing,” said Garland in a Tuesday response to the jury’s decision.

The DOJ didn’t immediately respond to this reporter’s request for comment. The story will be updated if and when a statement is provided.

“If the Justice Department concludes that there’s reasonable cause to believe there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing, we will issue a public report of our conclusions,” said Garland.

Concluding his remarks, Garland emphasized his respect for law enforcement, emphasizing that the majority of them are good officers.

“Most of our nation’s law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully. I strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices. Good officers welcome accountability because accountability is an essential part of building trust with the community and public safety requires public trust.”

You can follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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Joe Biden

President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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