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Inspector general opens investigation into DOJ use of force at DC's Lafayette Park

Investigation will review officers' training and instruction, whether they followed rules of engagement and adherence to chemical agent policies.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice Inspector General launched an investigation into use of force by DOJ personnel during recent protests in Portland, Oregon, and at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C.

DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced the investigation Thursday. It comes in response to Congressional requests, complaints received by the OIG and a referral from the U.S. Attorney in Oregon.

The federal response to ongoing protests in Portland over the police killing of George Floyd has drawn widespread criticism, even as President Donald Trump has promised further use of federal officers in U.S. cities. On Wednesday, Trump announced plans to send additional federal officers to a number of cities, including Albuquerque, Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia, as part of an expansion of Operation LeGend.

RELATED: Trump, Barr deploying feds to Chicago, Albuquerque, more areas under 'law-and-order' push

In D.C., WUSA9 has reportedly extensively on criticism over tactics used by U.S. Park Police and other law enforcement agencies in the clearing of Lafayette Park on June 1 immediately prior to a photo op by President Donald Trump. In particular, while law enforcement has denied using tear gas, WUSA9 investigative reporter Nathan Baca – who was at the park at the time it was cleared – has reported on the substantial evidence showing it was used.

WUSA9 also reported on the use of unmarked federal officers – eventually confirmed to be Bureau of Prisons special operations teams – during protests in the District.

RELATED: Protesters and ACLU sue DC Police over Lafayette Park actions

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Horowitz’s announcement on Thursday specifically mentions his office’s investigation will look at:

  • Training and instruction provided to DOJ law enforcement personnel
  • Compliance with applicable identification requirements, rules of engagement and legal authorities
  • Adherence to DOJ policies regarding the use of less-lethal munitions, chemical agents and other uses of force.

The investigation will be coordinated with a parallel investigation already underway by the OIG of the Department of the Interior.

RELATED: Police arrested hundreds at DMV protests – now what happens to those charges? WUSA9 asks the prosecutors

RELATED: Democrat bill would end use of unmarked federal officers to police First Amendment demonstrations

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