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United States

US probe slams Chicago police for 'use of excessive force'

The US attorney general has voiced concern over police brutality in Chicago after a year-long federal investigation. The Justice Department found that violations were concentrated in "black and Latino neighborhoods."

After a year-long investigation, the US Department of Justice found Chicago police violated the constitutional rights of residents for years, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a press conference on Friday.

"The Department of Justice has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago police department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution," Lynch said, referring to the article of the US Constitution protecting people from illegal searches.

"(The) pattern or practice of unreasonable force falls heaviest on predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods," the Justice Department said in a statement.

Federal authorities launched an investigation in December 2015 after Chicago police released dashcam footage showing a white police officer kill a black teenager.

The footage, which showed the police officer continuing to shoot the adolescent even after he slumped to the ground, prompted protests in the third-largest US city. It was released more than a year after the incident.

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'Avoided altogether'

Lynch described training procedures at the Chicago police department as "severely deficient."

She added that the department "does not adequately review use of force incidents to determine whether force was appropriate or lawful, or whether the use of force could have been avoided altogether."

The investigation's findings come at a time when Chicago has witnessed 762 homicides in 2016, marking the largest annual total in 20 years.

In recent years, activists have organized under the "Black Lives Matter" movement to protest police brutality across the United States, calling for law enforcement officers to be held accountable amid a series of high-profile deaths of blacks committed by white officers.

The Justice Department, under President Barack Obama's administration, has conducted more than two dozen civil rights investigations into police departments across the country, including in Baltimore and Cleveland.

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ls/sms (AP, AFP)

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