Attorney General

Justice Department will investigate use of deadly force by Chicago police

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The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will launch an investigation of the Chicago Police Department that will focus on its use of force, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Monday.

Lynch said in prepared remarks that the Justice Department will investigate whether the Chicago Police Department engaged in a “pattern or practice” of violations of the Constitution or federal law.

Issued to be examined include the police department’s use of deadly force, any racial and ethnic disparities in its use of force, and its mechanisms for handling misconduct allegations. A press release is here.

The probe follows release of a police video showing an officer’s fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17, as he appeared to be walking away from officers, report the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post.

The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder in November, shortly before release of the video. The fatal shooting occurred in October 2014.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he welcomed the investigation. “Our mutual goal is to create a stronger, better police department that keeps the community safe while respecting the civil rights of every Chicagoan,” he said in a statement.

Emanuel’s pledge of cooperation is an about-face from his initial comments that a Justice Department probe would be misguided. Critics have questioned why it took so long to charge the officer.

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