Mere days after Chicago officials released footage of the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald by police, the Department of Justice is conducting a civil rights probe into the city’s police department, reports ABC News.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the announcement earlier this morning, saying that the investigation will look at misconduct and the use of deadly force among officers, accountability procedures and the department’s handling of citizen complaints.
“This mistrust from members of the community makes it more difficult to gain help with investigations, to encourage victims and witnesses of crimes to speak up, and to fulfill the most basic responsibilities of public safety officials,” Lynch said in her speech, adding that various Illinois lawmakers had asked that the DOJ open an investigation into the department. “And when suspicion and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest.”
Lynch said that the months-long investigation will meet with both law enforcement officials and community members, which they will compile into a report. Lynch said that if evidence of unconstitutional practices is discovered, then the DOJ would work with the city to outline a plan for reforms to repair the broken trust between police and residents.
Chicago officers have been under increased scrutiny since last month, when city officials released video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times as the teen walked away from him. More than one year after the shooting, Van Dyke was arrested and charged with murder.