The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the city of Ferguson, Mo., for its refusal to accept the government's terms in a consent agreement aimed at reforming the city's law enforcement practices.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the failure of Ferguson City Council to agree to a 131-page resolution left the Obama administration no other choice but to file suit.
"From the outset, we made clear that our goal was to reach an agreement to avoid litigation, but we also made clear that if there was no agreement, we would be forced to go to court to protect the rights of Ferguson residents," Lynch said in a press conference Wednesday evening.
Lynch said the Council's failure to support the deal should be seen as the Council's decision to go to court over the matter, even though the Department of Justice is the one that took that step.
The 131-page agreement was released by Department of Justice in late January following seven months of talks with city officials. The deal called for the establishment of long-term programs that would improve relationships between the public and law enforcement officials and implement a system to hold police and the attorney general's office accountable for its actions.
The city council voted Tuesday night in support of the deal on the condition that seven proposals were added to the final agreement, including not mandating salary increases for police officers and changing certain fees.
Ferguson residents were given two weeks to share concerns about the deal with city leaders, and said Wednesday that the added changes came out of recent talks with residents. But that process wasn't enough to sway the Justice Department, which decided a day later to sue.
In February 2014, the fatal shooting of a black man drew national attention for the city's alleged unfair conduct against African-Americans by police and prosecutors.