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Justice Department Found Pattern Of Constitutional Abuses By Chicago Police: Report

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 12, 2017 4:29PM

Attorney General Loretta Lynch / Getty Images / Photo: Chip Somodevilla

The Justice Department has determined that the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern of constitutional rights violations, according to news reports that cite two unnamed sources knowledgeable of the investigation.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch will officially release the findings of the probe on Friday, according to multiple reports that surfaced on Wednesday.

The largest-of-its-kind probe will reportedly determine that the Chicago Police Department was found to be guilty of violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Among the Justice Department’s focuses were use of force, how racial bias factors into use of force and the department’s police accountability structure.

The 13-month investigation was launched in December of 2015, after the release of police dashcam footage that showed the police shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The footage showed McDonald moving away from police rather than lunging toward them, as officers on the scene had initially claimed. The disparity between the video images and the official account of events prompted massive protests in Chicago and national media attention.

The Justice Department was reportedly determined to complete and release the report ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration and the expected approval of Jeff Sessions as incoming Attorney General. Both have advocated for more extensive police latitude. At confirmation hearings earlier this week, Sessions cited low police morale—but not institutional failures—as a cause for gun violence in cities like Chicago.

The mayor’s office claimed a commitment to reform but declined speak further ahead of the DOJ’s release. "As you can see from our actions over the past year, we are committed to continuing to make significant and much needed reforms, providing officers with the tools and certainty they need to do their tough jobs well," Adam Collins, spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in a statement. "We have worked closely with the Department of Justice throughout their process, and we are not going to get ahead of them by speaking on their behalf now.”