DOJ to examine Chicago police; no charges in second shooting

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Department of Justice Opens Investigation Into Chicago Police Department

The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday it will investigate Chicago's police department following protests over the 2014 police shooting death of a black teenager, on the same day local prosecutors said they would not seek charges in another police shooting case.

U.S. authorities will look at the department's use of force, including deadly force, among other issues, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news briefing.

"Our goal in this investigation ... is not to focus on individuals but to improve systems," the United States' top law enforcement official said.

See photos from the Laquan McDonald case:

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DOJ to examine Chicago police; no charges in second shooting
CHICAGO, IL - UNDATED: In this handout provided by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke poses for a mugshot photo after he was was arrested for the shooting death of an African-American teen in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Cook County State's Attorney's Office via Getty Images)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, middle, leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke leaves the Cook County Jail after posting bond on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Chicago. Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald, right, walks down the street moments before being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chicago Police Department via AP)
In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald falls to the ground after being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chicago Police Department via AP)
A memorial to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and other victims of violence at the Sullivan House Alternative High School in Chicago is seen on April 17, 2015. McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. A judge has ordered the video of the shooting to be made public. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, to possibly face charges for the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Dan Herbert, lawyer for Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks to the press following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Dan Herbert, lawyer for Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, speaks to the press following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez leaves after speaking to the media about Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke following a bond hearing for Van Dyke at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 after responding to a call of a knife wielding man who had threatened the complainant and was attempting to break into vehicles in a trucking yard. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
This undated autopsy diagram provided by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office shows the location of wounds on the body of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot by a Chicago Police officer 16 times in 2014. A judge on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 ordered the city to release squad car dashcam video of the shooting. The officer has been stripped of his police powers, but remains at work on desk duty. (Cook County Medical Examiner via AP)
Rev. Jesse Jackson right, hugs Fred Hampton Jr., left, after a vigil for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed Oct. 20, 2014 in Chicago. Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, with first degree murder in the killing. Hampton's father Fred Hampton Sr. was the Illinois chapter President of the Black Panther Party and was shot and killed in 1969. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy appear at a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago, announcing first-degree murder charges against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the Oct. 24, death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The city then released the dash-cam video of the shooting to media outlets after the news conference. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks to the media during a vigil for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot and killed Oct. 20, 2014 in Chicago. Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, with first degree murder in the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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She said federal officials would be investigating "constitutional violations" in one of the nation's largest police departments.

Lynch's announcement came after almost two weeks of protests in Chicago following the release of a 2014 police squad car dashboard video showing police officer Jason Van Dyke emptying his gun into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, shooting him 16 times. Van Dyke, who is white, was charged late last month with first-degree murder.

High-profile killings of black men at the hands of mainly white police officers in U.S. cities have prompted a national debate and protests about the use of excessive force by police.

Two hours after Lynch's briefing, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez gave a detailed presentation to reporters explaining why she would not seek charges in another 2014 police shooting death of a black man.

Alvarez, who has been under fire for her handling of the McDonald case, said that Ronald Johnson III, 25, was holding a gun and fleeing arrest when he was shot by Officer George Hernandez on Oct. 12, 2014.

Prosecutors on Monday showed police car dashboard video to reporters and played audiotapes of police radio communications and 911 emergency calls.

An attorney for Johnson's family, Michael Oppenheimer, has said that the video showed Johnson did not have a gun. Oppenheimer was not immediately available for comment.

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Prosecutors showed reporters an image with a red-colored circle around Johnson's hand, saying that forensic experts clarified images of a weapon.

The video showed Hernandez firing at Johnson as he runs into a park. Alvarez said that Johnson had been asked repeatedly by multiple officers to drop his weapon, and that a 9mm semiautomatic pistol was found with Johnson after he was shot.

Alvarez said officers were at the scene due to an earlier shooting. The car in which Johnson was a passenger had been shot at, and rather than calling police, the driver and passengers had returned to the scene.

Another officer had tried to arrest Johnson, but he had pulled away, knocking the officer over, before running off, Alvarez said.

Alvarez said the weapon recovered from Johnson was linked to a 2013 unsolved shooting.

"Based upon an objective review of the evidence and the law, we have determined that the prosecution could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of Officer Hernandez were not reasonable and permissible," Alvarez said.

Responding to questions about why Johnson was shot in the back, Alvarez said Johnson could have turned and fired at Hernandez or other officers.

Alvarez said that in both the McDonald and Johnson shooting videos, there was no audio, which she found "frustrating."

The federal investigation of Chicago police follows other high-profile investigations of departments in Ferguson, Missouri and in Cleveland. Baltimore police are also under federal scrutiny.

In Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb which drew national attention following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer, federal authorities found racially biased abuses in both the police department and municipal court.

Last December, the Justice Department found that the Cleveland police systematically engaged in excessive use of force.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had initially disagreed with calls for a federal civil rights investigation, said on Monday that Lynch would have the city's "complete cooperation."

Emanuel, who has faced heavy criticism over the McDonald shooting, has ousted his handpicked police superintendent and replaced the head of the city's Independent Police Review Authority, which reviews police misconduct allegations.

(Reporting by Julia Harte in Washington and Mary Wisniewski and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

See more reaction to shootings by police across the country:

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Shootings by police, police brutality
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DOJ to examine Chicago police; no charges in second shooting
Protesters hold placards against the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb
People take part in a protest against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, a protester holds a sign as people rally for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Department Officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. McDonald, whose name demonstrators are shouting as they march the streets and plan to shut down the cityâs glitziest shopping corridor on Friday, lived a troubled life full of disadvantages and at least one previous brush with the law. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)
In this frame grab image made from an Oct. 12, 2014 video released by Chicago Police Department, Ronald Johnson, right, is seen running from police officers just a second before he was shot by an officer. Prosecutors say a Chicago police officer will not be charged in the shooting of the 25-year-old black man who authorities said was armed with a gun as he ran away from officers. (Chicago Police Department via AP)
Matthew White protests the shooting death of Michael Brown by police nearly a week ago Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A suburban St. Louis police chief on Friday identified the officer whose fatal shooting ignited days of heated protests, and released documents alleging the teen was killed after a robbery in which he was suspected of stealing a box of cigars. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
CORRECTS THE ID OF THE MALE ON POSTER TO TAMIR RICE - Tomiko Shine holds up a picture of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy fatally shot on Nov. 22 by a rookie police officer, during a protest in response to a grand jury's decision in Ferguson, Mo. to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, at the Department of Justice in Washington, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Protesters across the U.S. have walked off their jobs or away from classes in support of the Ferguson protesters. Rice's death has also sparked community demonstrations against police shootings. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
FILE - In this July 19, 2015 file photo from a body camera video provided by the University of Cincinnati Campus Police, university Officer Ray Tensing stands next to motorist Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop for a missing front license plate in Cincinnati. DuBose was fatally shot by the officer after a struggle ensued when he refused to provide a driver's license and get out of the car. Tensing was indicted Wednesday, July 29 on a murder charge. (University of Cincinnati Campus Police via AP, File)
Muhiydin D'Baha leads a group protesting the shooting death of Walter Scott at city hall in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Scott was killed by a North Charleston police office after a traffic stop on Saturday. The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, has been charged with murder. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A protestor carries a casket-shaped sign that reads "Justice for Antonio Zambrano Montes" as she takes part in a protest against recent shootings of unarmed civilians by police Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in Seattle. Zambrano-Montes was shot Feb. 10, 2015, by police in Pasco, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2014 file photo, demonstrators participate in a rally against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, in New York. In the days since grand juries in Missouri and New York decided against indicting white police officers in the deaths of black men, protesters nationwide have demanded a reckoning and an acknowledgement that âblack lives matter.â Yet so far, there are few signs such a conversation will come in the place where it might most make a difference: the next campaign for president. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
FILE - This undated photo released by his sister Javille Burns shows Jamar Clark. Clark was involved in a Nov. 15 confrontation with police and died later. Officers said Clark was shot after a struggle. Others say Clark was handcuffed. His death sparked weeks of protests.(Jamar Clark/Javille Burns via AP, File)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Demonstrators march through the streets protesting the Staten Island, New York grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July on December 6, 2014 in New York City. Protests are being staged nationwide after grand juries investigating the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York failed to indict the police officers involved in both incidents. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A protest sign showing and image of Ezell Ford as members of the 'Black Lives Matter' alliance stage protest outside the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's home as they try to force him to fire LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck, in Los Angeles, California on June 7, 2015. The alliance have renewed protests after a recent report from an LAPD watchdog determined that the August 11, 2014 officer-involved shooting death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South Central was justified. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors stand outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
In this undated photo provided by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, Najee Rivera is shown. Philadelphia Police Office Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson face brutality charges after prosecutors say they knocked a Rivera off a scooter and beat him so severely another officer thought the bloodied man had been shot. McKnight and Robinson were charged Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015 with assault, criminal conspiracy and reckless endangerment. They're also charged with lying about the May 2013 incident. (AP Photo/Philadelphia District Attorney's Office)
Two men are detained near Pioneer Court on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders held a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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