United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced today that the Department of Justice will investigate whether Chicago police have made a habit of violating the law and the Constitutional rights of citizens.
Lynch said the “pattern-and-practice” probe, as it’s known, will focus on use of force, deadly force, accountability, and how the Chicago Police Department (CPD) “tracks and treats” those incidents.
“What we are looking at is whether or not the police department has engaged in unconstitutional policing. Our goal in this investigation…is not to focus on individuals but to improve systems,” she said.
The probe will be handled by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney General’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
From the DOJ’s press release:
As part of the investigation the department will gather information directly from police officers and local officials; community members, and other criminal justice stake holders, such as public defenders and prosecutors. The department will also observe officer activities through ride-alongs and other means; as well as review documents and specific incidents that are relevant to the investigation. Pattern or practice investigations of police departments do not assess individual cases for potential criminal violations; instead they look at incidents for patterns created by systems and practices.
Lynch’s announcement was delivered after nearly two weeks of protests in Chicago following the release of a 2014 police car dashboard video showing police officer Jason Van Dyke
dutifully executing killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke shot at his victim 16 times. Late last month, the officer was charged with first-degree murder.
By the way, Chicago authorities fought hard to prevent the release of the incriminating dash cam video – it took over 400 days for the video to be released. Turns out, shortly after the shooting, the Chicago PD paid a friendly visit to a Burger King near where the incident occurred to view the restaurant’s surveillance footage. It is likely a surprise to no one that 86 minutes of that surveillance footage mysteriously vanished…missing minutes which just happen to be when the shooting took place.
Oh, and the dash cam video footage contradicts the narrative that was outlined in hundreds of pages of police reports.
McDonald’s family was given a $5 million settlement back in April, a decision that was made by a unanimous City Council vote (47-0). The dash cam footage was reportedly crucial to that decision.
There is also some talk about Chicago
Crook Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s role in the cover up, which also is likely a surprise to no one, given that the city and its politicians are notorious for corruption levels that would make the Mafia proud. Chicago is also the home of the infamous Homen Square, a prison-like compound where the the CPD illegally detained, interrogated, and tortured U.S. citizens in what lawyers call a domestic equivalent to a CIA “black site.” Earlier this year, The Guardian exposed the existence of Homen Square, and revealed that Chicago police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at the “off-the-books interrogation warehouse.”
Cook County commissioner Richard Boykin said of the federal investigation:
I think it will unearth a lot of bad stuff going on there.
He added that the black site will be included in the DOJ investigation:
Homan Square is a part of the CPD, so [the Justice Department is] going to look at that as well.
Lynch’s announcement was made exactly one week after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent a letter to the DOJ to request an investigation into the CPD. Madigan said that the McDonald case “highlights serious questions about the use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse,” according to a statement.
Emanuel claimed to welcome the probe and promised the city’s total cooperation with the investigation. In a statement, he said:
Our mutual goal is to create a stronger, better Police Department that keeps the community safe while respecting the civil rights of every Chicagoan. Nothing is more important to me than the safety and well-being of our residents and ensuring that the men and women of our Police Department have the tools, resources and training they need to be effective crime fighters, stay safe, and build community trust.
Eight days before Laquan McDonald’s killing, Ronald Johnson III was fatally shot by Chicago police officer George Hernandez. Dash cam footage of that incident (which has no audio), showed the flashes from Hernandez’s gun as Johnson ran away from officers.
Two hours after Lynch’s briefing today, Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez announced her decision not to prosecute Hernandez.
Alvarez, who has been under fire for her handling of the McDonald case, responded to questions about why Johnson was shot in the back by saying the man could have turned and fired at Hernandez or other officers, and that his gun was linked to a 2013 shooting. Johnson’s family has alleged in a wrongful death lawsuit that police planted a weapon at the scene after the fact.
Alvarez offered no explanation for why the police dash cam audio was not running in the Johnson shooting video. The dash cam footage of the McDonald shooting was also missing audio. Go figure.
On Sunday, Emanuel announced the resignation of Scott Ando, the head of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the civilian agency responsible for investigating serious allegations of police misconduct. There have been 409 police-involved shootings in Chicago since 2007, but the authority has only found two unjustified. Earlier this year, Lorenzo Davis, a top IPRA investigator, said he was fired for showing what his bosses called “a clear bias against the police” and for being “the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to” officer-involved shootings. Davis, who began work as an IPRA investigator in 2008, said he helped investigate more than a dozen shootings by police. He said his superiors had no objections when his team recommended exonerating officers. The objections came after each finding that a shooting was unjustified. He says there were six of those cases. Davis told Wbez:
They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot. They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force.
The DOJ has investigated other police departments in the past, including those in Albuquerque, Ferguson, Cleveland, East Haven (Connecticut), Missoula County (Montana), and New Orleans.
Following the announcement of the Ferguson investigation in September 2014, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that these types of investigations focus more on reform than punishing individuals for past misconduct. Toobin said, “It’s very serious because it can lead to a virtual federal takeover of the police.”
In March, The New American reported the following:
Under the guise of “restoring trust” between communities and police departments that have been militarized by the federal government, the Obama administration’s Justice Department announced this month that it had selected six U.S. cities to serve as pilot sites, to develop and deploy federal guidance for local police to create better procedures, reduce racial bias, and regain citizens’ trust.
The plan, which is controversial because it is in line with Obama administration goals to further nationalize and federalize local law enforcement, has been officially dubbed the “National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.” It will use U.S. taxpayer dollars to deploy “experts” and “researchers” charged with training officers to act in a manner that the DOJ deems just — in essence doing the bidding of the Obama administration. Officially, the Justice Department will be helping local officials “fight crime” under the scheme, according to news reports.
On the surface, DOJ investigations into police departments may seem like positive steps toward change, but perhaps it is all just part of a grand scheme to further militarize law enforcement and increase the already out-of-control police state.
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Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”