As President Obama's attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch was from the start likely to face tough questions from the Senate about her record and about the Justice Department's agenda. Now Lynch may come under further scrutiny during the Senate confirmation process as the one of the lead investigators into the death of Eric Garner.
As outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier this week, the federal government will conduct a civil rights investigation into Garner's death. The announcement followed the news that a grand jury in New York declined to return any charges against the New York City police officer who used a chokehold on Garner, who died after the confrontation.
- DOJ to open criminal civil rights investigation into Eric Garner's death
- Attorney general pick Loretta Lynch seen as civil rights defender
As the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch will lead the investigation along with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
"Since the death of Eric Garner last July, our office has monitored this case closely," Lynch said in a statement this week. "The investigation will be fair and thorough, and it will be conducted as expeditiously as possible."
Garner's death is one of a series of recent incidents that has put a harsh spotlight on racial inequities in the justice system, an issue that Holder has shown a strong interest in. On Thursday, Holder announced that the Justice Department would develop a "consent decree" with the Cleveland Division of Police following an investigation that found the division "engages in a pattern and practice of using excessive force."
Lynch is sure to face questions from senators about the role the Justice Department should play in reforming police department standards and procedures.