U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Monday a federal civil rights investigation of the Chicago police department.
The Justice Department will lead the probe into the constitutionality of the department’s systemic practices and policies on use of force, race and ethnicity and mechanisms of accountability.
Lynch’s announcement comes at a time of increased scrutiny for the department over its use of force practices.
State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Monday that prosecutors will not press charges against Chicago police officer George Hernandez in the 2014 shooting death of Ronald Johnson III because Johnson had a gun, resisted arrest and was running at other officers in a public park.
Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy stepped down last week over his handling of another officer-involved shooting. Jason Van Dyke, 37, was charged with first-degree murder last month in
connection with the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. The charges were brought pending the release of a contested videotape that showed Van Dyke firing more than a dozen shots at McDonald during the incident, including several shots after McDonald had been rendered incapacitated.
Prior to the release, a police union representing Chicago officers said the shooting was justified because McDonald, who was armed with a four-inch knife, lunged at officers. But the video contradicted this assertion, showing McDonald walking away from officers just before he was shot by Van Dyke a total of 16 times.
Emanuel is expected to hold a press conference Monday afternoon.