The U.S. Justice Department just condemned the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over their “pattern of using force, including deadly force” that is likely in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.
This condemnation is another point towards setting a strict standard for criminal justice reform in the United States going forward. Of course, what’s very problematic is that it remains to be seen just how highly the Trump administration sets the goal of criminal justice reform.
The DOJ’s statement on the conclusion of their investigation into the CPD reads, in part:
‘The Justice Department… has found reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) engages in a pattern… of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution… [t]he pattern… results from systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.’
The Fourth Amendment, ratified in 1789, protects American citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The DOJ’s investigation into the CPD was reportedly prompted by the department’s release of footage showing the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. McDonald was shot by then-Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke while Van Dyke was responding to a 911 call over McDonald wandering around with a large knife and breaking into vehicles.
Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in about 15 seconds, after the officer got out of his car and McDonald, still armed with a knife, began to walk up to Van Dyke. He started shooting approximately six seconds after exiting his squad car. As the footage of the incident shows, the first shot forced McDonald to the ground, but Van Dyke kept shooting anyway.
Although an initial internal report ruled the incident a so-called “justifiable homicide,” Van Dyke was later indicted on six counts of first degree murder and one count of official misconduct.
The DOJ launched their investigation into the CPD in the middle of a now years-long national outcry over the serious allegations of bias against African Americans in police departments across America. The DOJ has carried on similar investigations in other U.S. cities.
As for the “what now?” part of the equation, the Department of Justice will work in cooperation with Chicago leaders on a plan to improve the operations of the city’s police department.
Read a selection from the DOJ’s statement on the conclusion of their investigation into the CPD below.
JUST IN: DOJ finds reasonable cause to believe the Chicago PD engages in pattern or practice of using force in violation of 4th Amendment. pic.twitter.com/0pkd7IHiZR
— ABC News (@ABC) January 13, 2017
Featured Image via Aaron P. Bernstein/ Getty Images.