U.S. reportedly launching federal probe into Baltimore police practices

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Lynch: DOJ to Decide Soon on Baltimore Request

Attorney General Loretta Lynch will launch a federal probe into whether Baltimore's police department has engaged in a "pattern or practice" of excessive force, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The Post, citing two law enforcement officials, said Lynch's announcement of the investigation could come as soon as Friday.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday to investigate the city's police department for civil rights violations after the death of a black man from injuries sustained in police custody.

Rawlings-Blake told a news conference the investigation would look into police practices such as frisks, street stops of suspects and arrests to see if they violated the U.S. Constitution.

Her request followed the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, 25, who sustained spinal injuries after being arrested. His death sparked protests and a day of arson and looting in the largely black city.

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(5/1 update) Baltimore curfew - Freddie Gray riots
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U.S. reportedly launching federal probe into Baltimore police practices
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 30: Riot police advance on protesters and media during protests in the Sandtown neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested on April 30, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 30: Members of the National Guard sit parked in a humvee in the Sandtown neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested on April 30, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 29: Riot police monitor protesters near a CVS pharmacy that was looted and burned by rioters on Monday after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 29: Protesters argue near a CVS pharmacy that was looted and burned by rioters on Monday after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 29: Protesters argue near a CVS pharmacy that was looted and burned by rioters on Monday after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 29, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Protestors defy curfew in front of police officers the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Protestors taunt police officers the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Police enforce a mandatory, city-wide curfew of 10 p.m. near the CVS pharmacy that was set on fire yesterday during rioting after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Protesters hang out front of riot police minutes before a mandatory, city-wide curfew of 10 p.m. near the CVS pharmacy that was set on fire yesterday during rioting after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Protestors say the Lord's Prayer beside riot police the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Riot police depart after forming a barricade and dispensing tear gas near the burned out CVS pharmacy the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Protestors defy curfew and taunt police officers the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: A protester holds up a sign as police enforce a mandatory, city-wide curfew of 10PM near the CVS pharmacy that was set on fire yesterday during rioting after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: A motorcycle group formed a line in front of the Baltimore riot police the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: A woman yells at police near the CVS pharmacy that was set on fire yesterday during rioting after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: A man hugs a friend after being prayed over during a protest near the CVS pharmacy that was set on fire yesterday during rioting after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Riot police stand watch over a tire shop during protests near the CVS pharmacy that was burned to the ground yesterday during rioting after the funeral of Freddie Gray, on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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Lynch, who took office last week, met on Tuesday with Gray's family and Baltimore officials and vowed to help the city pursue police reform.

The city's chief prosecutor has brought criminal charges, including one murder charge, against six officers involved in the April 12 arrest of Gray.

The Justice Department has conducted similar reviews of U.S. police departments. An investigation of police in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager last year, concluded in March that the department routinely engaged in racially biased practices.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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