DOJ Issues Blistering Report on Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department
The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department on this day issued a blistering report on the Ferguson, Missouri, police department. DOJ launched its investigation in the wake of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year old African-American man, by a white Ferguson police officer on August 9, 2014. The shooting prompted weeks of protests including several nights of rioting and property destruction, over the shooting and patterns of race discrimination by the Ferguson police department. Sympathy protests also occurred around the country.
The DOJ report found a pattern of systematic race discrimination by the Ferguson police department and the Ferguson municipal court. The report found a pattern of unconstitutional stops and arrests, disproportionately of African Americans, by the police department. Additionally, the report found that the City of Ferguson used the police department to generate revenues to fund its city government. DOJ also found numerous racist emails exchanged among members of city government and the municipal court.
A St. Louis County grand jury on November 24, 2014 found no evidence to charge officer Darren Wilson with murder in the death of Michael Brown. More protests followed that decision. The Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division also found no grounds to charge officer Wilson with murder on this day, March 4, 2015.
Following the report issued on this day, the Justice Department and the City of Ferguson entered into negotiations likely to result in a consent decree that would order reforms of the police department and the municipal court. DOJ Civil Rights investigations were authorized by the Violent Crime Control Act, passed on September 13, 1994.
Don’t miss: Wesley Lowery, “They Can’t Kill Us All:” Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement (2016)
Learn more about police accountability: Samuel Walker and Carol Archbold, The New World of Police Accountability, 2nd ed. (2014)