The Justice Department (DOJ) is launching a formal civil rights investigation of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) following the deadly shooting of a First Nations woodcarver. The SPD has long been the cause of speculation concerning minorities and their treatment.
You can read the DOJ’s letter to Mayor Mike McGinn here.
“The Justice Department will seek to determine whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by officers of the SPD,” the DOJ said in a press release. “During the course of our investigation, the Justice Department will consider all relevant information, particularly the efforts that Seattle has undertaken to ensure compliance with federal law.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington demanded inquiry into the SPD after the death of a Seattle woodcarver named John T. Williams. The officer in the middle of the investigation, Ian Birk, was not charged after shooting Williams as he crossed the street. Williams died and Birk later resigned.
“I have been assured that there are no preconceived outcomes,” Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said in a press release. “This announcement follows a preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ during which they thanked us for our transparency and cooperation. The DOJ looks forward to working with us to strengthen our department.”
Diaz continued, “This is a great police department, but even the best police department can benefit from external review if the only result is an increase in public trust.”
ACLU of Washington spokesman Doug Honig shared in a statement, “We think the DOJ has a lot of experience and expertise in dealing with situations like this around the country. Our hope is that they can make recommendations that will help the city of Seattle curtail the use of excessive force in the future.”
This story is not just a local one now. CNN is currently covering this story heavily. Tune in on the television or online for up-to-date information as it is released.