Po­lice abuse ram­pant, probe finds

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION - By Michael Tarm and Don Babwin Michael Tarm and Don Babwin are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

CHICAGO — Chicago po­lice have vi­o­lated the con­sti­tu­tional rights of res­i­dents for years, per­mit­ting racial bias against blacks, us­ing ex­ces­sive force and shoot­ing peo­ple who did not pose im­me­di­ate threats, the Jus­tice Depart­ment an­nounced Fri­day af­ter a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Of­fi­cers en­dan­gered civil­ians, caused avoid­able in­juries and deaths and eroded com­mu­nity trust that is “the cor­ner­stone of pub­lic safety,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s civil rights divi­sion.

The fed­eral re­port blamed “sys­temic de­fi­cien­cies” within the depart­ment and the city, in­clud­ing in­suf­fi­cient train­ing and a fail­ure to hold bad of­fi­cers ac­count­able for mis­con­duct.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing the na­tion’s third-largest po­lice force in De­cem­ber 2015 af­ter the re­lease of dash­cam video show­ing a white of­fi­cer shoot­ing black teenager Laquan McDon­ald, who was hit 16 times as he walked away from po­lice hold­ing a small folded knife. The video of the 2014 shoot­ing, which the city fought to keep se­cret, in­spired protests and cost the city’s po­lice com­mis­sioner his job.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s rec­om­men­da­tions fol­low an es­pe­cially bloody year on Chicago streets. The city logged 762 homi­cides in 2016, the high­est tally in 20 years and more than the com­bined to­tal of the two largest U.S. cities — New York and Los Angeles.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion were “sober­ing” and pledged to make changes be­yond those al­ready adopted.

Chicago has spent more than half a bil­lion dol­lars to set­tle claims of po­lice mis­con­duct since 2004, but po­lice did not con­duct dis­ci­plinary in­ves­ti­ga­tions in half of those cases, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral re­port. Of 409 po­lice shoot­ings that hap­pened over a five-year pe­riod, po­lice found only two were un­jus­ti­fied.

Scott Olson / Getty Im­ages

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (right) calls the find­ings “sober­ing” and prom­ises to make re­forms.

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