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Chicago police routinely use excessive force: US Justice Department

14 January 2017 9:32

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The police department in Chicago, Illinois, routinely uses excessive force and violates the civil rights of residents, particularly those who are black and Hispanic, according to a report by the US government.

The report, released by the US Justice Department on Friday, blasted America’s second-largest police department for shooting at people who did not pose a threat and using tasers on others only because they refused to follow commands.

The report said excessive force falls “heaviest on black and Latino communities,” with police using force almost 10 times more often against blacks than whites.

The report, which was over 161 pages, said use of excessive force by Chicago police included officers shooting at fleeing suspects and using stun guns on children.

“The Department of Justice has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a news conference in Chicago on Friday.

Many of the problems with the Chicago police department stemmed from deficient training and accountability, Lynch said.

The Justice Department began a civil rights investigation in December 2015 after the release of a video showing the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald on October 20, 2014.

McDonald, a black teenager, was shot 16 times by white officer Jason Van Dyke. The video was released more than a year after the shooting.

The video sparked several weeks of demonstrations and led to the firing of Chicago’s police chief and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.

McDonald’s fatal shooting was one of many high-profile police killings that thrust Chicago and other American cities into a national debate over police violence against minorities.

Several activists said the findings were unsurprising and expressed little confidence that sweeping reforms would take place.

Chicago is among nearly two dozen cities, including Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, and Seattle where the Justice Department has pushed for wholesale reforms in police practices.

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