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Under Federal Investigation, Chicago PD Releases Controversial Videos of Officer Conduct

From Laquan McDonald and Ronald Johnson III, who were killed in officer-involved shootings, to Philip Coleman, who died after being tasered in his jail cell, at least three videos have been released so far by the Chicago police department depicting controversial actions by officers that call their use of force into question.

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As the Department of Justice launches a civil rights investigation into the practices of the Chicago Police Department, a series of videos have been released depicting controversial officer conduct.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Monday that the DoJ was launching the investigation because when “suspicion and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest,” and a lack of trust between police and their communities, “makes it more difficult to gain help within investigations, to encourage the victims and the witnesses of crime to speak up and to fulfill the most basic responsibilities of public-safety officials.”

[RELATED: Chicago Police Shooting Video Released Officer Charged First Degree Murder]

- Newsletter -

[pull_quote_center]The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether the Chicago police department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution of Federal Law. Specifically, we will examine a number of issues related to the Chicago police department’s use of force, including its use of deadly force, racial, ethnic and other disparities in its use of force and its accountability mechanisms such as its disciplinary actions and its handling of allegations of misconduct.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Chicago Police Union Stands By Officer Charged with First Degree Murder]

The investigation comes weeks after the dashcam video from the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was released on Nov. 24. The shooting occurred on Oct. 20, 2014, and the officer involved, Officer Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first degree murder after the video showed him opening fire just six seconds after exiting his patrol car and shooting McDonald 16 times.

The case of Van Dyke was unique due to the fact that it was the first time in 35 years that a Chicago police officer has been charged with first degree murder.

[RELATED: Lawyers: Alleged “Black Site” In Chicago Detaining And Interrogating Suspects]

The DoJ’s announcement came on the same day prosecutors announced they would not charge the officer who fatally shot 25-year-old Ronald Johnson III on Oct. 12, 2014. Dashcam video of the shooting showed Officer George Hernandez, who was responding to a call of “shots fired,” exit an unmarked police car and chase Johnson on foot, taking four steps before firing several shots.

Warning: The following video contains graphic content.

While Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez claimed that Johnson was carrying a gun at the time of the shooting, Johnson’s family attorney Michael Oppenheimer alleged that a gun was planted on Johnson’s body, and claimed that Alvarez had not interviewed any of the officers involved in the incident.

A third video was released, also on Monday, which depicted the events that led up to the death of 38-year-old Philip Coleman in 2012. In the video, which shows the view of a security surveillance camera, Coleman is lying on a cot in a jail cell when six officers enter.

Warning: The following video contains graphic content.

While the video does not have audio, it does show the officers speaking to Coleman briefly, and then surrounding him and shocking him with a taser multiple times. They then drag his limp body out of the cell. Coleman was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement condemning the way Coleman was treated by the officers. “I do not see how the manner in which Mr Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable,” he said. “Something is wrong here – either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department.”

Chicago’s Acting Police Superintendent John Escalante said the case of Coleman’s death is “under investigation, as it should be.” He also said that while the independent investigation is ongoing, the department “will be doing our own review of our policies and practices surrounding the response to mental health crises.”

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