Justice Department Considers Suing Ferguson Police For Racial Discrimination: CNN

Feb 19, 2015 at 10:31 am
click to enlarge Chief Tom Jackson releases the name of Darren Wilson, the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, to the media. - Chad Garrison
Chad Garrison
Chief Tom Jackson releases the name of Darren Wilson, the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, to the media.

The U.S. Department of Justice may sue Ferguson police after uncovering a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics unless the department agrees to make changes on its own, according to a CNN report.

The department isn't expected to charge Darren Wilson, the ex-Ferguson officer who fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown, with a crime, anonymous sources tell CNN. Federal investigators opened two probes -- into the shooting and into the Ferguson Police Department's methods -- soon after the August shooting.

A local grand jury already elected not to indict Wilson with criminal charges in November. In January, Ferguson business owners, residents and the mayor sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to release the results of the federal investigations.

See also: Ferguson and Jennings Sued for Throwing Poor People in Debtors' Prisons

Holder told reporters this week that he expects to announce the results of the federal investigations into the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson before he leaves his post in the coming weeks. Holder, the first black attorney general in the United States, and one of the longest serving members in President Barack Obama's cabinet, plans to step down once the legislature confirms his replacement.

"I think everybody will see when we announce our results that the process that we have engaged in is, as I said back at the time when I went to Ferguson, independent, thorough and based on all the facts," Holder said at the National Press Club. "And I am confident that people will be satisfied with the results that will be announced.

Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson told CNN he hasn't heard from the justice department about the investigations' results.

"I have received nothing new," Jackson told CNN. "Everything they suggested in the past has been reasonable, and we have tried to comply."

Ferguson mayor James Knowles told St. Louis Public Radio this week that the justice department can't force the police department to make changes without going to court.

"The feds can make recommendations, or they can ask us to do things," Knowles told KWMU (90.7 FM). "To force us to do something, they have to sue us in court."

The justice department is expected to release a report outlining a pattern of discriminatory tactics used by Ferguson police to target racial minorities, according to CNN. Earlier this month, fifteen people who described themselves as "impoverished individuals" filed a lawsuit against Ferguson and nearby Jennings accusing the municipalities of jailing defendants because they couldn't pay traffic tickets, bench warrants and fees, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].