US justice department to investigate Baltimore police

Inquiry after Freddie Gray death into whether there is discriminatory policing

US attorney general Loretta Lynch: said last week’s protests pointed to the need for an investigation. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

US attorney general Loretta Lynch: said last week’s protests pointed to the need for an investigation. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

 

The US justice department on Friday launched an investigation into the Baltimore police department’s use of force and whether there are patterns of discriminatory policing.

The inquiry, announced by US attorney general Loretta Lynch, was requested by Baltimore’s mayor in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who sustained fatal injuries while in police custody, and the outrage it sparked in Maryland’s largest city.

The justice department has conducted similar reviews of other US police departments. An investigation of police in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager last year, concluded in March that the department routinely engaged in racially biased practices.

Though the justice department is already investigating Gray’s death and working with the Baltimore police on reform, Ms Lynch said last week’s protests pointed to the need for an investigation.

“It was clear to a number of people looking at this situation that the community’s rather frayed trust – to use an understatement – was even worse and has in effect been severed in terms of the relationship with the police department,” Ms Lynch said on Friday.

The latest investigation will focus on allegations that Baltimore police department officers use excessive force, including deadly force, conduct unlawful searches, seizures and arrests, and engage in discriminatory policing, Ms Lynch said.

“If unconstitutional policies or practices are found, we will seek a court-enforceable agreement to address those issues,” she said.– (Reuters)