WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department could release as soon as this week a report criticizing police in Ferguson, Missouri for unfairly targeting black residents with tickets and arrests in the years before an officer killed teenager Michael Brown, according to The New York Times.
The police department's behavior created a tense racial environment and culture of animosity between black residents and police in Ferguson, the newspaper said, citing several officials who have been briefed on the report's conclusions.
That tension erupted in massive protests against police after Brown, who was unarmed, was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson in August. The Justice Department launched a pair of investigations into the police department after the shooting.
Attorney General Eric Holder said after visiting Ferguson last year that many black residents expressed mistrust and fear of police. One of his department's probes sought to determine whether police created a culture that was so unfair to certain racial groups that it infringed on their civil rights.The Justice Department said it would examine how Ferguson police use force, conduct stops and treat detainees, and whether they engaged in discriminatory practices.
The final report could lead to a civil rights suit against Ferguson police unless officials are able to reach a settlement with the Justice Department, The New York Times said.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Alan Crosby)