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Lawmakers seeking hearings on police tactics

WASHINGTON - Three high-ranking House Democrats are pressing for hearings on police tactics and race in the wake of the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.

Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, John Conyers of Michigan and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, all members of the Congressional Black Caucus, made the request in a letter Tuesday to the incoming GOP chairmen of the House committees with oversight over the judiciary and homeland security.

They write that the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner raise "multiple, complex issues" and that Congress should look at matters ranging from the grand jury process to policies for use of force. House Speaker John Boehner has indicated he's open to hearings on the issue.

Last week, Boehner had suggested Congress could possibly hold hearings on the shooting deaths because there were unanswered questions in both Brown's and Garner's cases.

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"I think the American people want to understand more of what the facts were," Boehner said at a press conference. "There are a lot of unanswered questions that Americans have and frankly I have."

In September, Congress held hearings on militarization of U.S. police departments, in the wake of the initial violence in Ferguson after Brown's death. Senators were critical of the distribution of surplus military equipment from the Defense Department, Homeland Security, and Justice Department to local law enforcement agencies.

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