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Justice Department Expected To Launch Separate Investigation Into Baltimore Police

The federal investigation will focus on whether there is a "pattern or practice" of excessive force at the Baltimore Police Department, multiple news outlets reported Thursday.

Posted on May 7, 2015, at 10:49 p.m. ET

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, right, accompanied by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Jose Luis Magana / AP

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, right, accompanied by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The Justice Department is expected to launch a comprehensive investigation into whether the Baltimore Police Department has a "pattern or practice" of excessive force, several news outlets reported Thursday night.

The decision was reached by newly appointed Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who visited the family the 25-year-old Freddie Gray, the man whose death from a severe spinal injury suffered during his arrest sparked widespread unrest in Baltimore.

The Justice Department has already launched a civil rights investigation into the Gray's death. But the wider investigation would run parallel to that inquiry, and look into department-wide practices.

The Justice Department's intent to launch an investigation was reported Thursday by The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN, who all cited anonymous sources.

Federal officials reportedly plan to announce the investigation on Friday.

On Thursday, Maryland's congressional representatives sent a letter to Lynch supporting a wider probe of the Baltimore Police Department, stating the investigation could "repair the public's trust."

The letter was signed by Maryland Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as state Reps. Elijah Cummings, John Delaney, Donna F. Edwards, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, and Chris Van Hollen.

"Such an investigation could address issues such as allegations of persistent patterns of police misconduct, use of excessive force, discriminatory policing or use of profiling, and improper stops, searches, or arrests," the letter stated.

The probe could resemble the one launched in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 after the police-involved shooting death of unarmed black teenage Michael Brown. The investigation found a pattern of racial bias in the city's police department and local courts.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday called for a federal investigation into the police department to examine stops, searches, and arrests.

Six Baltimore police officers have been charged in Gray's death.

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