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A federal appeals court has found Charlotte, N.C., police used excessive and discriminatory force against African Americans during traffic stops and other arrests.
The court, in a 6-3 decision on Wednesday, said the police department failed to show that they had a compelling reason to use force.
The city, which has a population of about 1.4 million, has faced criticism over police use of force since the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014.
The Justice Department has been investigating police departments nationwide for decades, as well as the use of deadly force by police against citizens.
Charlotte’s police department was not immediately available for comment.
The department has also faced scrutiny for using deadly force in several other recent cases, including an incident last year in which a police officer shot and killed an unarmed man.
Charlotte police officials have said the shooting was justified.
Read moreThe Justice Department investigation began in May after the shooting death of Jamar Clark, a black man, by Charlotte police officer Michael Slager in October 2016.
The case sparked national protests over police brutality, and in November, a federal grand jury declined to indict Slager.
Slager’s attorney said at the time that he was not the target of the investigation and was not facing criminal charges.
Charlotte police officers are not allowed to use deadly force against citizens, but in a 2015 lawsuit, the city argued that the department was allowed to do so if the person was using deadly or threatening force and the person resisted arrest.
In the suit, the department argued that officers did not have a “reason to believe that the individual posed a threat” to them and that Slager had reasonable suspicion to use lethal force.
A federal judge in December 2016 rejected that argument, saying that the officers were allowed to carry guns to protect themselves.