U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday morning that the Justice Department will launch a full scale civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.
The announcement comes days after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake requested the review and nearly two weeks after violence rocked the city in the aftermath of another in-custody death.
The Justice Department will look into whether city police engage in a “pattern or practice” of violating citizens’ constitutional rights.
Baltimore Police began a collaborative review with the Justice Department last October where the departments work together to reform the police department. Lynch said today the findings of the collaborative review will be folded into the pattern or practice investigation.
"Despite the progress being made [through the collaborative review], it was clear that recent events - including the tragic in-custody death of Mr. Freddie Gray - has given rise to a serious erosion of public trust," Lynch said.
In addition to the mayor, City Council President Jack Young also asked for a Justice Department investigation last October and renewed his call Tuesday. The Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement supporting the call for a federal investigation of the department.
Young called the opening of a federal investigation into the department “a watershed moment.”
Mayor Rawlings-Blake said in a statement that she is pleased that her request for an investigation is being honored.
“Our city is making progress in repairing the fractured relationship between police and community, but bolder reforms are needed and we will not shy away from taking on these challenges,” she said.
The Justice Department has already opened a civil rights investigation into the Freddie Gray case. Gray died of injuries sustained while in custody in the back of a police van.
Gray was handcuffed and put in leg shackles, but not restrained by a seatbelt while in the back of the van.
State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby has filed criminal charges against six of the officers involved in Gray’s death.