The US Department of Justice has released the results of a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department, finding that the city’s officers regularly trample on residents’ civil rights and are racially biased against black people.
The Justice Department launched its investigation following the police shooting of Laquan McDonald on October 2014. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald, initially claimed that the black 17-year-old lunged at police officers and posed a dangerous threat. But a dashboard camera video released in November 2015 showed that McDonald was at least 10 feet away from the officers and posed no threat. The revelation worsened already-tense community relations with the police, leading the Justice Department to get involved in its biggest investigation of a police department yet.
In a press conference on Friday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department found that the Chicago Police Department’s practices put everyone at risk. “The systems and policies that fail ordinary citizens also fail the vast majority of Chicago Police Department officers who risk their lives every day to serve and protect the people of Chicago,” she said.
The investigation has already led to an agreement between the Justice Department and the city of Chicago to help reform the police department’s practices.
The two did not reach a court-enforced consent decree, as is typical after massive Justice Department investigations. That’s because such a process would take time, and the current Obama administration will no longer be able to oversee reforms after President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20. Trump and his attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions, have shown less of an interest in police reform and investigations than the Obama administration.
We are currently combing through the report and will write up a full explainer shortly. In the meantime, you can read the full findings here: