A U.S. Department of Justice report released this Friday said, “Chicago police have shot at fleeing suspects who weren’t an immediate threat, used force to retaliate against people, failed to address racially discriminatory behavior within the department, and put their own officers at risk.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch, speaking at a news conference at the Dirksen Federal Building in the Loop, said the report found “reasonable cause” that the police department engaged in a pattern of practice of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. She blamed that partially on “severely deficient training procedures” and “accountability systems.”
The Justice Dept. began its review of the 12,000-officer force in December 2015 after the release of dashcam video showing a white police officer shoot a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times as he walked away holding a small, folded knife.
The video of the 2014 shooting triggered widespread protests.
The report, concluding the federal investigation that began in December of 2015, alleges widespread and repeated violations of the Constitution and hammers the police department for failing to investigate, use of force cases, while “whitewashing” the cases it does open.
The report stated, “Interviews of officers involved in shootings and other incidents is done in a way to get information that helps the officer rather than getting at the truth.”
The report continued, “Inadequate steps are taken to prevent officers from covering up misconduct, and discipline is “haphazard” and “unpredictable.”
“Chicago police lack the training and practices to de-escalate volatile situations — which leads to shootings that may have been preventable and puts cops in danger. The department provides insufficient support for officer wellness and safety,” Lynch stated.
BREAKING: AG Lynch says an investigation shows there’s reason to believe Chicago PD engages in “excessive force” https://t.co/GOriA916LI
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 13, 2017
Vanita Gupta, the Justice department’s head of civil rights, said, “We found that the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including deadly force and non-deadly force. This pattern included . . . shooting at people who presented no immediate threat and tazing people for not following verbal commands.”
DOJ investigation found that Chicago PD use “excessive force” like “shooting at people who pose no immediate threat” https://t.co/AGxLjlL7mR
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 13, 2017
Besides Gupta, Lynch was joined at the press conference by U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
“The use of excessive force by Chicago police disproportionately affects black and Hispanic communities,” the report says, which “breeds distrust.”
Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s former top cop, hammered the DOJ on Thursday and told the Sun-Times that “their conclusion is that we are biased and racially profiling. They’re wrong.”
Garry McCarthy told Fox News, the Justice Dept. never interviewed him for its report, even though he was on the force until late-2015. Speaking to America’s Newsroom, he suggested it was because “my narrative doesn’t fit what they want to say… the politics is the strongest pull.”
McCarthy said “The actions of the police were not to blame for Chicago’s skyrocketing violent crime rate. Last year saw nearly 750 killings across the city, a spike of more than 250 from 2015.”
More than 650 of last year’s homicides were shootings.
The former superintendent told Fox News last week, “The police are not the problem. The criminals are the problem.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the findings “sobering to all of us. Police misconduct will not be tolerated anywhere in the City of Chicago.”
The report did state the police department and city government have been taking steps toward reform.
“It noted that the former agency for investigating police shootings — the Independent Police Review Authority — has been replaced by the new Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is now releasing videos and other records from police shootings within 90 days of the incident.”
The report also “highlights the department’s plans to expand the use of police body cameras across the city.”
Attorney General Lynch said the federal government and city officials had signed an “agreement in principle” to keep negotiating what comes next.
On Thursday, South Side Congressman Bobby Rush said he expected the DOJ investigation to find widespread civil rights abuses, and called for immediate action to force reforms on the police department before Trump takes office.
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