The US Department of Justice has launched a formal investigation into the allegations that there are "patterns and practices" of excessive force and civil rights violations within the Seattle Police Department, after a series of controversies have brought on public outrage.

The Seattle Times has an extensive report on the federal investigation and on the decision to specifically investigate the shooting of woodcarver John T. Williams by officer Ian Burk.

According to the Times, SPD Chief John Diaz is welcoming the investigation:
"We have nothing to hide," he said. "We've been open and transparent with the Department of Justice, which makes for a good working relationship."

Diaz, attending a previously scheduled appearance with The Seattle Times editorial board, said he had received a call from the DOJ hours earlier alerting him to the decision. He said he had expected the investigation, which he likened to a "free audit from the Department of Justice."

The DOJ also confirmed Thursday it is conducting a separate criminal investigation into the August shooting death of First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams by a Seattle police officer. The officer, Ian Birk, resigned from the force after prosecutors said they could not build a case against him.
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