Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Laquan McDonald Killing Puts Eyes on Chicago

CHICAGO (CN) - Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday that the Justice Department will conduct an investigation of the Chicago Police Department after the release of video showing the shooting of Laquan McDonald.

"Today, I am announcing that the Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether the Chicago Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law," Lynch said Monday morning.

Specifically, the federal government will look at the CPD's policy for the use of force, racial disparity in officers' use of force, and its handling of misconduct allegations.

Lynch's announcement came two weeks after the Nov. 20 release of a dashboard camera video showing police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times when the teen appeared to pose no threat.

According to CPD statistics, the department disciplined officers in only 3 percent of more than 56,000 misconduct complaints filed over a 12-year period.

Most officers over this time period accrued an average of four complaints, but 10 percent of officers were accused of misconduct 10 times or more.

Van Dyke racked up 18 citizen complaints in his 14-year career, including eight complaints of alleged excessive force. One man who claimed his shoulders were injured by Van Dyke during a traffic stop was awarded $350,000 by a federal jury.

But Van Dyke has never once faced discipline from the CPD.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel initially opposed a federal investigation, but then backtracked under extreme media pressure and loud calls for his own resignation.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both voiced support for a federal probe of the department.

Lynch said the Justice Department will examine data and issue a report with findings.

"If we discover unconstitutional patterns or practices, the Department of Justice will announce them publicly, seek a court-enforceable agreement with the Chicago Police Department and work with the city to implement appropriate reforms," she said.

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