Loretta Lynch announces Baltimore police investigation

By Danielle Haynes  |  Updated May 8, 2015 at 4:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 8 (UPI) -- The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the practices of the Baltimore Police Department in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday.

Lynch said the department would evaluate whether the police force violated the Constitution, federal law or the community's civil rights.

"This investigation will begin immediately, and 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," she said.

The move comes two days after Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called on the DOJ to fully investigate the city's police force to determine what "systemic challenges exist in our department." She said she discussed the request Tuesday with Lynch, who was visiting the city with a team of officials from the DOJ.

Lynch said the department would issue a report at the conclusion of the investigation and if unconstitutional practices are found, "we will seek a court-enforceable agreement to address those issues.

"We will also continue to move forward to improve policing in Baltimore even as the pattern or practice investigation is underway," she said.

The Baltimore Police Department came under heightened scrutiny after 25-year-old Gray sustained a fatal injury allegedly while in police custody. His death April 19 prompted weeks of protests and one day of more violent riots and looting.

Six police officers involved with Gray's arrested were charged Friday with a number of charges, including one who is accused of second-degree murder.

"I have no illusions that reform will be easy; the challenges we face did not arise in a day, and change will not come overnight," Lynch said Friday. "It will take time and sustained effort. But the people I met in Baltimore – from protestors to public officials to an officer who had been injured amidst the violence – all said the same thing: 'I love my city, and I want to make it better.' That's why I'm so optimistic about this process."

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