DOJ Opens Investigation Into Chicago Police Department

Photo: Andrew Harrer/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will investigate whether the Chicago Police Department has a pattern of violating the civil rights of the city's nonwhite residents. The investigation comes after the death of 17-year-old Black teen Laquan McDonald at the hands of a white Chicago police officer, Jason Van Dyke.

Van Dyke reportedly killed McDonald in October 2014, and video footage from the event, released last month, depicts the officer repeatedly shooting the teen, using all 16 rounds in his 9mm pistol, even though McDonald did not seem to pose an immediate threat. The officer, who faces first-degree murder charges in McDonald's death, was released after posting bail earlier this month.

The DOJ's investigation "will examine a number of issues related to the Chicago Police Department's use of force, including its use of deadly force; racial, ethnic, and other disparities in the use of force; and its accountability mechanisms," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a press conference Monday.

"Building trust between law-enforcement officers and the communities they serve is one of my highest priorities as attorney general," Lynch continued. "The Department of Justice intends to do everything we can to foster those bonds and create safer and fairer communities across the country. And regardless of the findings in this investigation, we will seek to work with local officials, residents, and law-enforcement officers alike to ensure that the people of Chicago have the world-class police department that they deserve."

The release of the video footage showing McDonald's death inspired protests across Chicago. The footage was released on November 24 after a Freedom of Information Act request from a journalist, and a judge ordered city officials to make the video's contents public. Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy on the same day the video was released.

McDonald's family, meanwhile, agreed to a $5 million settlement with the city of Chicago in April.
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