Justice Department Reportedly Finds Pattern Of Discrimination In Baltimore Police

A mural of Freddie Gray in the Sandtown neighborhood of Baltimore on July 27.

Bryan Woolston / Reuters

The Baltimore Police Department routinely violated people's civil rights, illegally arrested residents, and used excessive force, according to media reports on a Justice Department investigation expected to be released on Wednesday.

The investigation found that the department's discriminatory practices overwhelming targeted Baltimore's black residents, the Baltimore Sun reported, citing unnamed sources.

A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment to BuzzFeed News on the investigation Tuesday, but the Washington Post and other outlets reported that the findings were slated for release Wednesday.

A woman runs for safety as police throw tear gas canisters in Baltimore on April 28, 2015.

Patrick Semansky / AP

The probe into the Baltimore Police Department began after the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who suffered fatal injuries while being transported in a Baltimore police van.

In a statement Tuesday, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who unsuccessfully prosecuted the officers involved in Gray's death, said she looked forward to reviewing the Justice Department findings. She said they would “likely confirm what many in our city already know or have experienced firsthand.”

“While the vast majority of Baltimore City Police officers are good officers,” Mosby said, “we also know that there are bad officers and that the department has routinely failed to oversee, train, or hold bad actors accountable.”

Gray’s death last year prompted days of protests and unrest, further energized the Black Lives Matter movement, and sparked calls to reform the city’s law enforcement.

It also shined a light on what many in the community described a deeply troubled relationship with Baltimore’s police and the wider community, particularly black members of that community. The trouble dates back decades; As far back as 1980, the NAACP called on the Justice Department to investigate police brutality. Moreover, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has criticized the Baltimore Police Department for “militarization,” adding last year that black residents have experienced violence “daily in their interactions with police.”

Over the years, multiple black men have also reached settlements with the department for injuries suffered during “rough rides,” or the practice of not strapping people into police vans, then driving erratically so they are thrown around and suffer injuries.

Demonstrators protest in Baltimore on April 25, 2015.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

In May, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake described the community's relationship with its police department as “fractured” and called on the Justice Department to conduct a full civil rights investigation.

According to the Sun, the Justice Department's now-wrapped investigation found that some problems in the Baltimore Police Department date back to policies from the 1990s that encouraged more aggressive policing.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that probe also identified problems including training shortcomings, inadequate community policing, and insufficient internal affairs investigations.

How exactly the new report will lead to reforms remains unclear, though it will apparently be part of an ongoing process.

According to the Sun, the report is expected to the first step toward an agreement that would hold the city accountable and that would be enforced by the courts.

In her statement Tuesday, Mosby said she was “positive that the Department of Justice report will lead to even more reforms.”

LINK: Prosecutor Drops Charges Against Officers In Remaining Freddie Gray Cases

LINK: The Short, Hard Life Of Freddie Gray

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